Beth Bechdol wears many hats, including continuing her tradition of being a sixth generation farm girl on the family farm near DeKalb in northeast Indiana. She is also Director of Agribusiness Strategies for Ice Miller, an Indianapolis law firm. And now she's the chair of the National FFA sponsoring committee.
The National FFA Headquarters is located in Indianapolis near Dow AgroSciences on the northwest side of the city. The National FFA Convention in 2013 was held in Louisville, Ky. That's where Bechdol took over her new duties related to National FFA.
The Sponsor's board for National FFA consists of 37 executives, primarily of major companies scattered across the country. The primary job of the sponsors is to raise money for the National FFA. They also seek to strengthen relationships between companies that support FFA and FFA itself, and to seek new sponsors who can support the nation's premier youth organization.
The 2012-2013 Sponsor's Board raised a record $18.2 million from corporate sponsors and individuals to support National FFA activities. The support also helps ag education, state FFA Associations and even local FFA chapters, Bechdol says.
"We have 11 new members on the board who are ready to get to work and help us have another record-setting of funding," the new chairperson says. "It will be another exciting year for FFA, and I'm looking forward to playing just a small role in supporting our next generation of leaders."
According to National FFA staff, there are more than 575,000 FFA members in 7, 570 chapters. FFA is in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Just under half of the membership today is female, but young ladies hold 50% of the leadership offices within FFA. Two-thirds of the membership is white, 22% is Hispanic, 8% is black or American Indian and 3% is Asian.
More than 11,000 FFA Advisors, who are also ag teachers, keep FFA ticking. Indiana currently is in need of more ag teachers and FFA advisers.