PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington FFA officers will be driving in style this year as they fulfill their duties across the state.
They will have the use of three Ram trucks, said Stewart Padelford, director of the FFA foundation. Ram will pay the cost of the leases.
The foundation also worked with Mid Valley Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Grandview, Wash., which also paid for the signage promoting agriculture that appear on the trucks, Padelford said.
“It’s a great opportunity and it helps the kids out,” said Isaac Aguirre, commercial new-car manager for the dealership. “We were honored as a dealership to be a part of it.”
“An expectation has been that the state FFA officer team drives their own vehicles, or their parents’ vehicles, to visit chapters around the state, put on leadership activities and attend the fairs,” Padelford said. “That’s a pretty high expectation of the kids, to use their own transportation.”
He estimated the state officers drive roughly 25,000 to 30,000 miles over the course of the year. They visit all 150 FFA chapters around the state.
There was some reimbursement, but Padelford called the cost to the officers and their families “tremendous.”
The wraps on the trucks include words from Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” speech and from President George Washington about the value of agriculture.
“It’s a great way to promote the ag industry and career opportunities for students,” Padelford said. “They’re trekking all over the state of Washington, promoting FFA, promoting the values of the organization.”
The foundation is constantly looking for support from the agriculture industry and other companies for FFA awards, Padelford said. The Leadership Learning Initiative is designed to pay for leadership training at the district and state levels. That costs about $34,000 a year.
The foundation also provides teacher training through the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education program. Twenty teachers will be trained this summer, Padelford said.
“We support teachers and their training because we know that their direct instruction in the classroom is going to be very important to the students’ learning and being prepared to go to work in the ag industry,” he said.