Since 2011, the Oregon FFA has positively impacted the lives of students supported solely by private industry and individuals. Now, the state of Oregon has chosen to add to that support.
The Oregon Senate passed HB 2444 on Saturday unanimously with a vote of 27-0. The House of Representatives voted 60-0 for the bill on June 20th. The legislation now goes to Governor’s desk. It was initially introduced by Representative Greg Barreto in working with the Oregon Agriculture Teacher’s Association (OATA).
This legislation will remove barriers of access – primarily by removing or reducing financial costs – for thousands more students enrolled in agricultural education courses at Oregon high schools. Further, it will strengthen leadership development and career preparation programs that will impact students across the state. This will complement the vital support provided from the state to local level by industry and communities through the Oregon FFA Foundation and Oregon FFA Alumni and Supporters. While this adds new programming support, it does not replace funding for programs or student experiences that are currently funded by the Foundation.
Until 2011, state level activities of the FFA were supported by the Oregon Department of Education. Two decades of budget decreases resulted in the FFA model becoming 100% privately funded in 2011. This legislative effort to reestablish financial support and investment in FFA was crucial to expand the influence of agricultural education and FFA.
“The Oregon FFA Foundation, through generous donations from Oregon's agricultural industry, has been the primary source of funding for Oregon FFA over the past decade,” said Oregon FFA Foundation President Kirk Maag. “With the passage of HB 2444, we're thrilled to see the legislature reinvest in agriculture education and FFA and join the Foundation as a partner in expanding opportunities for more students in more communities. The Foundation remains steadfast in its commitment to ensure a sustainable, long-term funding source for agriculture education and FFA, and I'm confident that our partners in Oregon's agricultural industry will continue to support our important work.”
A key piece of this initiative was to also support local programs and agriculture educators. One part of HB 2444 will allow school districts to expand summer contracts for FFA advisors, as most are engaged throughout the summer in student activities and projects but many do so for little or no compensation.
Oregon FFA and OATA leaders will work with the Department of Education to implement HB 2444 in the coming months.