Partners for Advancing Agriculture ®

Context joins Ag Industry’s Role in Youth Career Development

Fall 2019

As the agriculture industry continues to expand, so does the growing demand for a diverse and well-prepared workforce. The National FFA Organization is playing an active role addressing modern agriculture industry challenges in several ways. With an ever-growing, diverse membership, FFA develops tomorrow’s workforce through skill-building career development events (CDE) centered in agriculture education for high school students across the United States.

These CDEs provide those in the ag industry a glimpse at the promise of what’s next from up and coming, talented young business people. One example of the active, modern workforce development FFA brings to the table can be found in the Marketing Plan CDE, sponsored by The Context Network.

“FFA challenges teams to market an actual product, supply or service in their community and solve a problem for a real, operating business,” says Josh St. Peters, executive vice president for Context. “These students are learning everything from market research to data analysis and strategic planning – all things that are incredibly relevant to the projects we deliver for our clients.”

Regardless of the industry, customer engagement is essential to a successful business. For those in agriculture, having a marketer that understands your business and your customer’s business can be critical.  That’s where FFA’s Marketing Plan CDE comes into play and why Context supports the national competition each year.

Teams of three students each compete by preparing a complete marketing plan and presenting it. While preparing the plan, they take into considering current market status, industry trends, competitors, targeted audience and audience behavior. These insights drive their development of budgets, as well as goals and the strategies to reach them. Measurement is also essential to the development of the plan and students identify key performance indicators that signal whether their marketing plan, once implemented, is successful.

“The quality of our students and their marketing plans is pretty incredible,” says Donn Randall, who leads up the competition for National FFA. “It is truly a very realistic process of working with a business to identify opportunities and shape a strategic plan for growing business.”

By teaching the essentials required to reach success in marketing and providing students a platform for learning to do and doing to learn, the Marketing Plan CDE prepares students for careers in business, marketing, advertising, association management and more. This year’s competition features 34 teams from across the country, and takes place during the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.