By Stan Maddux
INDIANAPOLIS – The sky is now the limit for current and past members of FFA to connect and help each other.
A new online “Forever Blue Network” is in service to create an opportunity for FFA members exploring career paths and former members looking for qualified individuals to fill job openings in areas like agriculture.
The network also gives alumni a chance to mentor current members and users a forum to simply engage in casual conservation or develop friendships with others sharing common interests.
“It’s kind of a combination of Facebook and LinkedIn merged together to from this unique community that’s specific to just FFA,” said Joshua Rusk, executive director of National FFA Alumni and Supporters.
Rusk said the online network is also open to supporters of FFA headquartered in Indianapolis.
More than 1,600 people have created profiles since the network went online in the spring.
A lot more users are expected to join once word about the network spreads considering FFA has about 700,000 members and more than eight million past members.
There are more than 8,600 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Rusk said the idea for the network surfaced more than a year ago from FFA students in a production agriculture committee looking for more convenient and effective ways to explore career paths.
Previously, Rusk said networking was pretty much restricted to physically being at FFA conventions and other events or companies involved in their potential career choice.
“So, we started to look into how do we take this mentoring opportunity and make it an online experience versus someone doing it from their desk at the office,” he said.
The network also provides categories for finding mentors, job postings, internships and upcoming events. Rusk said the network can also come in handy to find schools offering FFA programs and like any social media site learn other things like popular attractions and post pictures.
“It creates a space to develop those personal communications and get ideas,” said National FFA spokesperson Kristi Meyer.
Rusk said the network will also be used to try and reach out to millions of past members for which the national organization does not have contact information. The site will be a way to keep those former members up to date on FFA happenings.
Meyer said only present and past FFA members along with FFA supporters can join and they must apply at FFA.org.