The Indiana FFA Center, located at Trafalgar, was the object of a last-minute rally by supporters to gain money for the facility from the Indiana legislature. The goal was to place a $250,000 line item in each year of the coming two-year budget cycle to use for improve the structure and appeal of the Indiana FFA Center.
However, the bid for state funding fell short when a leading senator on the committee putting the budget together balked, not understanding why the FFA Center needed state money.
Joe Park, Indiana FFA Center director, says he probably didn't offer the best explanation. But given time and resources to try again, he hopes friends of the Indiana FFA and FFA Center will make another run at getting state funding either in 2014 or 2015.
The FFA Center, established in 1970, sits on 168 acres. It has been a constant battle to bring in enough income from groups to keep the center up-to-date and in good shape based on the income earned by groups using the center.
The original purpose was to train FFA leaders, and that's still the goal. However, to keep the doors open, the Center hosts everything from band camps to weddings.
"We want to get the emphasis back on youth," Park says. "This is a youth camp. We want to develop our own programming, which we've never had before. We started that effort this spring with our new spring camps for elementary kids."
Park is also bringing back three summer FFA camps for high school members, instead of the one offered for the past several years. He promises these camps will consist of 90% outdoor activities.
"They're used to coming and sitting and learning about leadership," Park says. "We're going to teach them about leadership in a different way – by giving them activities that allow them to make decisions and work with one another."
The FFA camps that are very successful around the country receive state support, either in grants or in paid salaries of the camp staff, Park says.
The FFA Center has never received one direct dollar of state support. Expect friends of FFA to ask legislators to rethink their ability to help the camp the next time around.