Kevin White was 20 years old when he made it his goal to raise $1 million for the National FFA Organization.
Mission accomplished. And then some.
In seven years as executive director of the Oregon FFA Foundation, White helped raise more than $3 million for state programs, enlisting several dozen corporate sponsors to throw their support behind agriculture education.
White stepped down from the position Aug. 31 after accepting a new job with Deschutes County Title. Doug Hoffman will serve as interim executive director while the foundation searches for a full-time replacement.
The Oregon FFA Foundation is the primary funding vehicle for Oregon FFA, which lost state funding in 2011. Oregon FFA had received financial support from the Oregon Department of Education, though budget cuts at the state level prompted FFA to become independently funded, or risk becoming the first state to lose its program.
“When we lost that money, the foundation had to step up and figure out how we’re going to support Oregon FFA,” White said.
The foundation hired White as its first executive director. White is an FFA alum from Anderson, Calif. who served as national FFA secretary in 1992-93. It was then that he decided to put the $1 million target on his bucket list.
“I had been able to get a lot out of FFA in terms of my own personal growth,” White said. “FFA teaches a lot about service. It’s something where you feel compelled to give back.”
White moved to Oregon in 1995 to attend Western Baptist College — now Corban University — in Salem. He then moved to Terrebonne, just north of Bend, where he lives on a small ranch.
During White’s tenure, the Oregon FFA Foundation went from raising around $6,000 per year to $600,000 per year.
“It changed dramatically,” White said. “Obviously, I think we were able to exceed a lot of expectations.”
The FFA Foundation funds a large portion of basically anything that isn’t covered by student dues or registration fees, including staff, programs and the annual state convention. The strategy, White said, is instead of asking for charity, the foundation asks for business sponsors to partner with FFA. As a career-oriented organization, he said the alliance makes sense on both ends.
“Don’t underestimate the potential that the agriculture industry is willing to support FFA,” White said.
Hoffman, who serves as president of the foundation’s board of directors, said he appreciates White’s work and looks forward to continuing the group’s mission as interim executive director.
“We have a great team in place, and we’re well-positioned to continue the important work of funding the programs and activities that benefit thousands of students each year,” Hoffman said.
Kirk Maag, president-elect of the foundation, said they are fortunate to have Hoffman step into the role on a temporary basis. Hoffman was CEO of the Wilco Co-op for more than 20 years before retiring in December 2017.
“Doug has decades of leadership and management experience,” Maag said. “It’s important to have someone with Doug’s experience at the helm.”
The foundation intends to start reviewing applications Sept. 21, and Maag said they hope to hire someone before the end of the year.
“We’re looking for somebody who is a self-starter, and who has a vision of how to best support the Oregon FFA Organization,” he said.
For more information, or to suggest candidates, contact Maag at 541-881-9613 or Elin Miller at 415-613-5251.