To view a description of these areas please visit the National FFA Descriptions.
The Agricultural Proficiency Awards program is similar to the FFA motto in that it helps you set goals and learn practical skills. The program rewards FFA members, such as yourself, at the local, state and national levels for exceptional accomplishments and excellence in a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program.
Your reasons for submitting a proficiency award application may vary: to compete against others, to achieve a sense of satisfaction, to reach a goal or maybe just to have fun!
There are two types of proficiency award applications. The first type is called "placement." It is for work or experience-only (paid or unpaid) SAE programs, such as directed lab, improvement and research/experimentation experiences. Examples include working at a nursery, grooming at a horse stable, developing a research program involving wildlife or volunteering at a local park. The other proficiency award application is called "entrepreneurship." It is for SAE programs that involve ownership of an agricultural production or an agribusiness enterprise. An easy way to differentiate between the two categories is to determine if the SAE program involves ownership. A student who works for a wage as an employee at a feed store has a "placement" program; whereas, a student who grows feed grain and assumes all risk on the investment of that crop has an "entrepreneurship" program.
Your agriculture instructor can assist you in determining which application best suits your SAE program.
SAE programs form the basis of proficiency and degree award programs. They are planned, practical activities conducted outside of class time that help students develop and apply agricultural knowledge and skills learned inside the classroom. These activities can include entrepreneurship, placement (paid or unpaid) or research/experimentation.
Developing an SAE into a successful program takes time and planning. SAE programs also involve goal setting because they take time to grow and develop.
Agricultural proficiency awards are available to all FFA members enrolled in high school agriculture, including special needs students.
Individually, you can apply for specific proficiency areas while you are in or after you are out of high school, as long as you have been out for no more than one year. If you have graduated from high school, you must have completed at least three full years of instruction in agricultural education or the program of agricultural education offered in the school last attended. At the minimum, you must have kept one full calendar year's worth of records as an FFA member to apply for a national level proficiency award. Realistically, you are more competitive at the national level with more years of records. Some states have specific requirements; your state FFA advisors can provide more information.
Proficiency applicants do not need to live on a farm or ranch to participate in the awards program. The agricultural industry needs qualified employees in over 250 career areas, including processing, sales and service, conservation, forest management, horticulture, landscaping, nursery operation, turf management and floriculture.