January 28, 2021

Wristbands a way to honor Indiana FFA mentor

MONROE, Ind. — For Mary Jones, a junior at Adams Central High School and vice president of her school’s FFA chapter, the loss of Rob Hays, who served as director of the Indiana FFA Association until he passed away suddenly in September, hit her hard.

Jones said she first met Hays about four years ago, when she volunteered to work in the FFA Pavilion during the Indiana State Fair.

Jones said she got to know Hays well working in the pavilion with other FFA members and after that she would see him at Career Development Events and Leadership Development Events, where he would usually talk with her and ask how things were going.

“Rob was someone you could talk to,” Jones said, adding that Hays was always passionate about Indiana FFA and his work.

Jones said serving as the Indiana FFA director was Hays’ dream job and he put everything he had into it to help benefit members.

“I really wanted to do something in memory, but I couldn’t think of something that everyone could see every day,” Jones said.

Jones said she got the inspiration to make wristbands with two quotes that Hays had said in his retiring address as an Indiana FFA officer years ago, as well as words he lived by, when her high school did a similar project to honor someone who passed away unexpectedly.

Jones said she wanted the wristbands to reflect who Hays was, which is why they come in yellow and blue to signify FFA colors and the true passion Hays had for the youth leadership development organization.

“The money goes directly back to the Rob Hays scholarship fund,” Jones said, adding money in that account is then used to help FFA members compete in contests and attend workshops.

Each wristband bundle come with both the yellow and the blue wristbands for $5.

Jones said she has sold close to 200 bundles and recently was able to write a check for $1,400 to the scholarship fund.

“My goal was to sell 50 bracelet bundles to raise $500,” Jones said, happy that she has sold many more wristbands than her original goal.

Besides just selling the bundles, several people wanted to donate to the cause, but didn’t need the wristbands, Jones said, and told her to give them to an FFA member that may not have been able to purchase them.

“One person bought 50 bundles to give to family and friends from his high school,” Jones said.

Jones still has several bundles left and is hoping to be able to sell them at the 2021 Indiana FFA State Convention, depending on whether it is held in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jones noted she is glad she is able to keep Hays’ memory alive and has even shipped wristbands to Florida and Massachusetts.

To purchase a wristband bundle, email Jones at 22jonesm@acjettech.net.

Ashley Langreck

Field Editor