Tulare County students put on their blue suede jackets

Students around the county receive new FFA jackets with the help of the Tulare County Farm Bureau

TULARE COUNTY – Multiple students were selected to receive their very own FFA Jacket, complete with their name embroidered into the trademark blues. This was an initiative made by the community to provide jackets for those who would otherwise not be able to have one.

Since the Future Farmers of America’s (FFA) trademark jacket is part of a student uniform, it is required at many FFA competitions. However some students are unable to afford to buy their own, which is why the Tulare County Farm Bureau and local businesses partner up to provide these students with jackets. 

“For our kids, having a jacket of their own means they have an opportunity to compete in CDE and LDE contests and show livestock without having to rely on a loaner from the chapter,” Elizabeth Thornburg, Woodlake’s agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, said. “A lot of them say it means that someone other than their advisor sees the potential they have to do great things in FFA and beyond.” 

Over 40 Tulare County students will receive the symbolic blue jacket during the annual Blue Jacket Bonanza event. The jacket ceremony will be held Jan. 18, 2023 at Exeter Memorial Building at 6:30 p.m. The majority of the jackets will be given to students from Woodlake and Farmersville, with others from Visalia, Dinuba and Strathmore.

For students to receive a jacket, they must first go through an application process. The jackets are awarded based on need, as well as a student’s community service, leadership skills and dedication to the FFA program.

Tulare County first took part in the Blue Jacket Bonanza back in 2012, when they gave out only three jackets to local students. This effort was first started by the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau in 2010 after the farm bureau’s executive director, Teri Bontrager, had noticed that many of the FFA students that participated in fairs and fundraisers did not have their own jackets. In her local school district, she realized that the majority of students were involved in free and reduced lunch programs. This realization sparked her desire to help the local students in her disadvantaged community.

From there, the Blue Jacket Bonanza was born, and has now spread all over the nation, and is also supported by the National FFA Organization. Just a year later in 2011, the Blue Jacket Bonanza was recognized by the American Farm Bureau Federation, and was named as one of the “County Activities of Excellence.”

All of the jackets received by the blue jacket bonanza event have a unique take to them, as well. The inside of the jacket has a 2”x3” blue jacket bonanza patch that shows it was provided by a local farm bureau, which was a detail that was made by the National FFA Organization themselves.

In order to make this dream attainable for local farm bureau’s, they are only required to pay a flat-rate fee of $55 for the jackets, scarf or tie for each student. Without this, jackets can range to $50 or more, and scarves and ties can be $8 to $16. 

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