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Raffle raises money for FFA scholarships

By Sean Ellis

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

BOISE – The Idaho FFA Foundation’s annual raffle program raises money for scholarships for FFA members and the proceeds also help fund the state’s 100 FFA chapters.

Over the past year, the raffle program sold approximately 5,000 tickets. Half of the proceeds from each ticket go back to the FFA chapter that sold the ticket. This year, the raffle raised $50,000 for Idaho FFA Foundation scholarships and another $50,000 that will be returned to FFA chapters.

On June 14, Kathy Adams of Middleton was named as the winner of this year’s grand prize, a 2022 Yamaha Wolverine side-by-side.

Her name was drawn from a barrel by Gov. Brad Little, a farmer and rancher from Emmett.

Little praised the FFA’s leadership development program and said Idaho employers are eager to hire students who went through the program.

“Companies that move into Idaho will say, ‘You can’t beat those farm kids and … FFA kids,” he said after drawing the winners of the 2023 raffle. “It’s been a really, really good program and as society changes, those core agricultural values the program teaches are always something that employers are looking for.”

Kevin Barker, an ag education teacher and FFA advisor from Notus who helps organize the raffle, agreed with that assessment.

When many employers are looking to hire, “They want to know, were you in FFA?” he said. “This program provides the employers of Idaho with fantastic kids who are ready to step right up and provide leadership.”

Caldwell farmer Sid Freeman and his wife, Pam, started the raffle in 2010 as a way to support a program they believe strongly in.

“These kids right out of high school are ready to roll and agribusiness owners throughout the state and nation are looking specifically for FFA students because they know they’re going to succeed,” Sid Freeman said.

He said students who have been through FFA have a higher success rate than other students when it comes to post-secondary education.

“The FFA students have a far higher probability of succeeding in life after high school than any other group of high school students and I’ll stand by that,” Freeman said.

He said the raffle started as a simple idea: get rid of an old tractor and raise some money for FFA scholarships while doing so.

The first tractor was a 1940 International Farmall H, which was donated by the Freemans. Industry partners helped restore it.

Other farms and agribusinesses donated tractors in subsequent years. In 2020, the raffle program started offering off-road utility vehicles as the grand prize to attract a wider potential audience of ticket buyers.

“I’m so happy to see how the program has grown since we started it,” Freeman said. “This program is making a huge difference for our FFA students.”

Besides raising scholarship money and funds that help support individual FFA chapters, the raffle has also helped publicize and generate interest in agricultural education programs such as FFA, he said.

The grand prize is hauled around the state on a trailer for much of the year and it’s typically accompanied by FFA students themselves when being showcased to the public.

The students serve as real-life advocate for agricultural education and the FFA program.

“It has raised awareness of the FFA program tremendously,” Freeman said of the raffle. “We travel almost 6,000 miles a year and when people see this trailer, they want to know what it’s all about.”

“The goal for this raffle is to fundraise for scholarships and FFA programs and also increase awareness about the FFA program and agricultural education and why it’s important to Idaho,” said Carly Weaver, interim executive director of the Idaho FFA Foundation.

The second-place winner in this year’s raffle drawing was Mark Ipsen of Dingle, Idaho, who won a Traeger Grill donated by Campbell Tractor.

Third place went to Chris Milich of Nampa, who won a $500 D&B Supply gift card, and fourth place went to Linzie Green of McCall, who received a cooler and barbecue basket donated by Valley Wide Cooperative.

Next year’s grand prize is a 2023 Cam-Am Maverick Trail side-by-side. The cost for a raffle ticket is $20 and tickets go on sale later this summer.