A popular magazine recently published a photo of a young lady wearing a vintage FFA jacket proclaiming that "old FFA jackets are now in fashion." This article came much to the dismay of many current and former FFA members and advisors. Some members have gone so far as to check their thrift stores for donated jackets just to keep them out of pop culture. However, the thrift stores have already caught up to the fashion trend and are already selling FFA jackets for more than purchasing a new jacket from shopFFA.org.
So the question remains, what should you do with old FFA jackets? I'll break this up into different answers for different groups.
For everyone: If you just have to get rid of it (donate, trash, box by the road,...) the National FFA Organization asks that you remove all lettering and emblems before donating it. Yes, that does take time, but this keeps the jacket out of the pop culture world. I've heard the suggestion of using a shaving razor on the inside of the jacket on the back side of the lettering. With about as much pressure as you use to shave, rapidly stroke the blade across the yellow stitching. This should create a nice yellow ball of fuzz as you quickly shave off the threads. As the back stitching vanishes you will notice a point where you should be able to flip the jacket over and pull out the lettering.
For advisors: if at all possible keep jackets for students who could wear them in CDE's, LDE's, chapter functions, and livestock shows. Quite a few chapters have a check in/out system to loan out jackets. I never had enough for my chapter because students come in so many shapes and sizes I was always trying to find one somewhere for a student. If you still have too many, consider some of the ideas on the Pinterest pin. I particularly like the owl, but the pillow looks great too. These can be great graduation gifts to officers or particular alumni who need some recognition. Other suggestions I've seen include:
- Decorations for parent/member banquets
- Accent pieces for a school or department trophy case
- FFA quilt or quilts. Display them at FFA events, livestock shows, and recruitment activities.
- Used as part of an Official (Unofficial) Dress Fashion Show activity in class for greenhands
- Frame the emblems to show the change over the decades
- Cut out the names on the jackets and create a wall of fame in your classroom
- Reuse the emblems on new jackets
- As mentioned earlier: create an owl or pillow that you can give as a graduation present to retiring officers or as an alumni recognition gift.
For students: Keep it, keep it, keep it. I wish I had mine. I always borrowed one and never bought one. I had so many people tell me to just go ahead and get one and I never did. They'll mean a lot to you as you get older and your kids will want to wear it one day if they are in FFA. Trust me, it happens all the time. If you don't want to keep the jacket then:
- Have a family member or friend make you one of the items above or you have it made for your parents. A particularly skilled seamstress could incorporate a rising sun or other FFA emblems into the pillow.
- Save it for a sibling or relative to use when they get into FFA. I'm sure seeing your name on a jacket will bring back stories of your misadventures in the chapter.
- Donate it back to the chapter to use. As I mentioned, they never have enough.
For Parents, FFA Alumni, or Friends of the FFA - Consider some of the options above. I encourage you to not only donate any jackets you have at home back to the chapter, but provide some history to go with the jacket. The advisor, what sort of activities the student participated in, and any stories that go along with it. If you run across one at a yard sale, thrift store, or have a friend giving one away don't assume it will be properly taken care of. However, don't risk life and limb just to acquire it. The older jackets have tons of history and are valued by the chapter, so do try to acquire them without breaking the bank and get them disposed of properly or commemorated in some way for the chapter.
If you have any more ideas or suggestions about what to do with forgotten FFA jackets please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments below.
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