You read that right – the FFA has a mascot, called Flyte. He's an owl, or at least a person in an owl costume, with the FFA emblem on the back. Flyte recently made several appearances in Indiana.
During FFA week he appeared at the Franklin Community High School vs. Jennings County basketball game. Both schools have active FFA chapters. The person in inside is a professional mascot with 19 years of experience, including stints with the Pacers and currently with the Indianapolis Indians. He hams it up for the crowd and puts young children at ease. Part of his appearance usually includes distributing t-shirts bearing the emblem of Flyte the Owl.
DeLoss Jahnke, communications specialist in marketing for the National FFA, says the purpose of the mascot is to help others learn about FFA. "We're reaching out to try to let others not involved in FFA learn about the group and agriculture," he says. It's part of a campaign to introduce FFA to a broader audience.
The mascot typically appears at the National FFA Convention. Held in Indianapolis in October, 2012, it now moves to Louisville, Ky., for 2013 through 2015. The convention was previously held in Louisville before moving to Indianapolis.
Flyte also made appearances at Tractor Supply stores in central Indiana before and during FFA week. His appearance was tied to a promotion by Tractor Supply Company, a sponsor of the National FFA. The company conducted a campaign that allowed customers to contribute money for FFA scholarships.
When Flyte appeared at the Franklin Tractor Supply Company store, Franklin Community High School FFA members accompanied him, helping customers take purchased items to their vehicles, and taking donations in addition to those made at the register if someone wanted to contribute.
Hats off to Jahnke and the National FFA for trying an out-of-the-box approach to spread the word about FFA.