The National FFA Organization
is an American youth organization
known as a Career and Technical Student Organization
, based on middle and high school classes that promote and support agricultural education
. The organization, founded in 1928 as Future Farmers of America
, now has over 507,763 members in 7,439 chapters throughout all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. However FFA no longer stands for Future Farmers of America. In 1988 it became the National FFA Organization.
The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.
was the acronym for Future Farmers of America but the organization, in an effort to broaden its potential membership beyond youth working in traditional "production" agriculture, changed its official name from Future Farmers of America to the National FFA Organization in 1988; it is now officially named The National FFA Organization. High school students compete in various events called Career Development Events (CDEs). Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs, and Leadership Development Events (LDEs) are programs designed to broaden the students abilities and experience in different fields of agriculture. Students are supervised by agricultural education teachers in cooperation with parents, employers and other adults who assist individuals in the development and achievement of educational and career goals
The FFA is represented at several different levels across the nation, changing from state to state. The basic levels are the national level, serving all of the United States of America; the state level, serving an individual state; and the chapter level, serving a school or set of schools in an area. Other levels include names such as districts, sections, regions, etc.
Originally created to serve high school students, the FFA has recently moved into elementaries, allowing members to become active earlier and stay active for longer. Each chapter is chartered as part of the state association and national organization. Collegiate chapter now exist, as well.
The higher levels of FFA hold conventions at least once a year, where members get together to be inspired, renew their faith in agriculture, compete in contests, and do much more. The National FFA Convention is held once a year, and was originally held in Kansas City, Missouri, but moved to Louisville, Kentucky, for seven years, and is currently held at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, from 2006 to 2012.
Many levels of the FFA can award degrees of membership to that level, signifying an individual member's accomplishments. The recognized Degrees of Membership are:
- Discovery FFA Degree, awarded to Middle School students with an understanding of FFA knowledge.
- Greenhand FFA Degree, awarded to new high school FFA members who can recite the FFA Creed and have formed an SAE plan.
- Chapter FFA Degree (formerly Chapter Farmer), awarded by each Chapter on the basis of hours worked and/or money earned in an SAE.
- State FFA Degree (formerly State Farmer), awarded by each state based on hours worked and/or money earned in an SAE.
- American FFA Degree (formerly American Farmer), awarded by the National FFA Organization, and the highest degree that a member may attain.
Officers of FFA
As the FFA is a member-led organization intended to serve youth around the Nation, it elects officers from its own diverse membership to certain levels of the FFA. At the Chapter level, and many other levels, officers elected are usually:
- Vice President
Other officers may include:
Each officer is an agricultural student and holds responsibilities needed to serve, and are elected each year by members at the respective levels.
At the National level, officers elected are:
- Eastern Region Vice-President
- Southern Region Vice-President
- Central Region Vice-President
- Western Region Vice-President
This allows officers to be elected to one of the four national regions of the FFA, as well as a President and a Secretary.
Official FFA Dress
The most recognizable symbol of the organization is the blue jacket that is worn by current FFA members. Originally created to be worn by the Fredericktown Band of the Fredericktown FFA Chapter by Dr. Gus Lintner, the Official FFA Jacket was adopted in 1933 as the Organization's Official Dress. Official Dress for members is as follows:
- Black slacks
- White collared button-up shirt (tucked in)
- Official FFA tie
- Black dress shoes
- Black socks
- Official FFA jacket, zipped to the top
- Knee-length black skirt or black slacks
- White collared button-down blouse (tucked in)
- Official FFA blue scarf
- Black closed-toe and heel dress shoes
- Official FFA jacket zipped to the top
- Black nylon hosiery
Members through their time in the FFA work to earn metal pins to place on their jackets. Awards include contests pins and proficiency awards. There should never be more than 3 pins on the front of the jacket below the name including the highest office, highest award, and highest degree. Degree pins include Discovery, Greenhand, Chapter, State, and American. Offices include President, Vice President, Reporter, Secretary, Treasurer, Sentinel, Historian, Chaplin, Parliamentarian, and other appointed positions. If a member has earned the State or American FFA degree no other pins should be displayed. These degrees may either be placed on a chain hung from the jacket or placed above the name on the front. No other pins should be displayed either way in these cases. If the member holds the American Degree the state degree should also be removed.
Over the years, FFA jackets have come in many forms and colors. Changing suppliers and newer design specifications allowed the jacket to fit awkwardly and the color to turn a deep purple, with orange emblem. Efforts by the National FFA, under the campaign "Only Blue Will Do," redesigned the FFA jacket to its original crisp blue color. In addition, the cost of the jacket was lowered, and original design elements were restored, such as specialized stitching. All new jackets now are produced to strict standards of quality.
As an organization, the FFA has many traditions and trademarks, identifying it as an agricultural education organization:
The FFA Motto:
- Learning to Do
- Doing to Learn
- Earning to Live
- Living to Serve.
The FFA Mission: The National FFA Organization is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.
The Official FFA Colors: National Blue and Corn Gold (worn on the Official FFA jackets).
The FFA Creed
The FFA creed was written by Erwin Milton "E.M." Tiffany of Wisconsin, and adopted at the 3rd National Convention of the FFA. It was revised at the 38th Convention and the 63rd Convention. It is recited by new members to the organization, to reflect their growing belief in agriculture and agricultural education it also must be memorized and recited to earn the Greenhand Degree.
''I believe in the future of agriculture; with a faith born not of words but of deeds - achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.
I believe that to live and work on a good farm or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement I can not deny.
I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly with such knowledge and skill as I can secure and in the ability of progressive agriculturalists to serve our own and the public interest in producing and marketing the product of our toil.
I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining; in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so-for others as well as myself; in less need for charity and more of it when needed; in being happy myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends upon me.
I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.
Career Development Events
FFA Career Development Event, or CDE's, are contests that members compete in to test their skills learned through agricultural education instruction. They vary at the different levels of the FFA, and some are competed in only at certain levels.
At the National level, there are 24 CDE's:
- Ag Communications
- Ag Issues
- Ag Mechanics (Small engines and Tractor Trouble Shooting)
- Ag Sales
- Agronomy (Insects, seeds, etc.)
- Creed Speaking
- Dairy Cattle
- Dairy Products
- Dairy Handlers Activity
- Environmental & Natural Resources
- Extemporaneous Public Speaking
- Farm Business Management
- Food Science & Technology
- Greenhand Knowledge Bowl
- Horse Evaluation
- Job Interview
- Livestock Evaluation
- Marketing Plan
- Meats Evaluation & Technology
- Parliamentary Procedure
- Poultry Evaluation
- Prepared Public Speaking
Supervised Agricultural Experience Programs
To be an active member in the National FFA Organization, a member must have an Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project. The projects involve hands-on application of concepts and principles learned in the agricultural education classroom, with guidelines for the SAE projects governed by the state FFA delegation. SAE programs are grouped into four different areas:
- Exploratory - learning about the 'big picture' of agriculture and related careers
- Research/Experimentation and Analysis - conducting research or analysis of information to discover new knowledge
- Ownership/Entrepreneurship - planning and operation of an agriculture-related business
- Placement - working either for pay or experience in an agricultural setting
Prominent Former Members
- Jimmy Carter, Former US President
- Sam Brownback, US Senator, Past National FFA Vice President
- Jerry Litton, Past National FFA Secretary, former Congressman from Missouri
- Kirby Barrick, Dean of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Florida, Past Ohio State President
- Wes Watkins, Former US Congressman, Past Oklahoma State President
- Jeff Miller, US Congessman, Past Florida State Vice President
- Don Fuqua, Former US Congressman, Past Florida State President
- Frank Atkisson, Member of Florida Legislature, Past Florida State Vice President
- Jim Davis, creator of the Garfield comic strip
- Benjamin Ivey (Graphic designer), designer for the MS Baptist Convention Board
- Trace Adkins, music entertainer
- Don Henley, music entertainer
- Jared Hess, director of Napoleon Dynamite
- Lyle Lovett, music entertainer
- Tim McGraw, music entertainer
- John Cougar Mellencamp, music entertainer
- Craig Morgan, music entertainer
- Willie Nelson, Music entertainer
- Eddie Montgomery, music entertainer
- Matthew Fox, actor best known for Lost and Party of Five
- Larry Craig, U.S. Senator, National FFA Vice President
- John Rose, former Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, Past State Vice President
- Sterling Marlin, NASCAR driver
- Gus R. Douglass, West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture, past National FFA Vice President
- Orion Samuelson, Radio Broadcastor
- Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer Prize Winner, past Oregon State Officer
- Elizabeth Kinney, former Miss Oklahoma, past Oklahoma State Reporter
- Kevin Breene, Rhode Island State Senator
- Roger Breske, Wisconsin State Senator
- Harold Brubaker, North Carolina State Representative, past National Vice President
Toby Keith, Music entertainer