The Farm Bureau donated the jackets March 11.

Blue corduroy jackets, a symbol of the traditions and fellowship found behind each FFA member, were gifted to local students by the Delaware Farm Bureau during the state FFA conference in Dover March 11.

In the Blue Jacket Bonanza program, the Farm Bureau awards jackets based on need, community service, leadership skills and a commitment to the FFA program.

Richard Wilkins, president of Delaware Farm Bureau, presented the jackets.

“Today, I’m here representing the Delaware Farm Bureau as its president. But yesterday, I was just like you, an FFAer, student at Milford High School, past chapter leader, a past state leader, and the ideals that I learned from my involvement with the FFA I’ve applied specifically to my leadership life as an agriculturist,” Wilkins said.

Describing the jacket as a “great symbol of American agriculture,” he said, “It gives us great pleasure to be able to support you with the Blue Jacket Bonanza Program. Because we realize, the Farm Bureau leaders, that when you put on this blue and gold jacket, that you’re representing the traditions and the spirits of citizenship, of leadership, of vocational education.”

This year, 44 students received the gift of an FFA blue jacket through the program. Since 2015, the Farm Bureau has awarded 291 jackets totaling $17,525.

Sussex Technical High School student Taylor Bullis received a blue jacket through the program last year. During the conference, she was given the opportunity to express her heartfelt gratitude for the gift.

“To me, it was just an incredible feeling to own my first personal Sussex Tech FFA jacket. Wearing it connects me to the members and officers who came before me and keeps me focused on the goals ahead,” she said. “To me, my blue jacket means much more than just my involvement in the FFA. It symbolizes my growth as a person, as a student and as a leader. Our blue corduroy jacket is much more than just fabric and stitching. It’s a symbol of hope, of hard work, of determination, of sacrifice and of friendship. My blue corduroy jacket represents how the FFA, just like the Farm Bureau, has stood the test of time and will continue to stand.”