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The History of FFA

Founded in 1928, the Future Farmers of America brought together students,teachers and agribusiness to solidify support for agricultural education. InKansas City"s Baltimore Hotel, 33 young farm boys charted a course for thefuture. They could not have foreseen how the organization would grow and thrive.

Since 1928, millions of agriculture students - no oneknows exactly how many - have donned the official FFA jacket and championed theFFA creed. FFA has opened its doors and its arms to minorities and women,ensuring that all students could reap the benefits of agricultural education.In the beginning there were 33. Seventy-five years laterthere are 457,000.

Today, the National FFA Organization remains committed tothe individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership,personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Now, theorganization is expanding the nation"s view of "traditional" agriculture andfinding new ways to infuse agriculture into the classroom.

We know the power of 33. We see the power of 457,000. Nowwe celebrate the power of one. This is our mission; this is our goal.

Key Moments in FFA History

1917 -The Smith-Hughes NationalVocational Education Act establishes vocational agriculture courses.

1926 -Henry Groseclose, an agricultureteacher trainer and former agricultural education instructor, helps organize theFuture Farmers of Virginia for boys in agriculture classes. Soon similar groupsare established across the country. The FFV would be used as a model forcreation of the FFA in 1928.

1926 -The American Royal Livestock Showinvites vocational agriculture students to participate in National LivestockJudging Contests in Kansas City, Mo.

1928 -During the National LivestockJudging Contests, 33 students from 18 states establish the Future Farmers ofAmerica to provide leadership training for high school students of vocationalagriculture. During this first annual convention, Leslie Applegate of Freehold,N.J., is elected president and dues are set at 10 cents annually. The nationalconvention was held in Kansas City 1928-1998.

1929 -The official colors-national blueand corn gold-are adopted. They are still used today.

1930 -At the 3rd National FFAConvention, the membership issue is clarified when the all-member, maledelegation amend the constitution restricting membership to boys only underArticle III, Section B. The official creed is adopted.

1933 -Fredericktown, Ohio, FFA membersarrive at the national convention in crisp, blue corduroy jackets with the FFAemblem on the back. Official delegates vote to adopt the jacket as theorganization"s official dress. Members still wear the nationally-recognizedjackets today, honoring the tradition and history of FFA. More than 50,000 aremanufactured each year.

Members across the country celebrate thefirst National FFA Day. In 1948, this would be changed to FFA Week andcelebrated during George Washington"s birthday to recognize his pioneeringcontributions to American agriculture.

1934 -All states except Rhode Island andAlaska have chartered associations. Rhode Island would charter an association in1950 and Alaska in 1976.

1935 -New Farmers of America (NFA), anorganization for African-American boys interested in agriculture, is formed andeventually includes 13 states. It is patterned after the New Farmers of Virginiaformed in 1927.

1944 -The National FFA Foundation, Inc.,was established in Washington, D.C., to raise money for FFA programs andactivities from business, industry, government, individuals and foundationsponsors. Today, the Foundation is located in Indianapolis, In., and raises morethan $7.3 million annually.

1948 -FFA members participate in theorganization"s first international exchange program with the Young Farmers Clubof Great Britain. By 1996, the FFA would send more than 350 students to morethan 25 countries annually.

1950 -The U.S. Congress passes PublicLaw 81-740, which grants the FFA a Federal Charter and stipulates that a U.S.Department of Education staff member be the national FFA advisor. Today FFAcontinues to be recognized by Congress as an intra-curricular part of theeducational program.

1953 -FFA celebrates its silveranniversary. President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the first president to address anational FFA convention. Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George Bush andRonald Reagan would address the FFA in the future. The U.S. Post Office issues aspecial stamp to commemorate the founding of the FFA.

1959 -The FFA headquarters isestablished in Alexandria, Va., on land which was part of George Washington"sestate. The FFA had owned the land since 1939 and used it for national camps.During the dedication, members participating in the first National LeadershipConference for State Officers place a hand full of soil from each state aroundthe flagpole.

1965 -The New Farmers of America (NFA),the organization for African-American agricultural education students, mergeswith the FFA, adding 50,000 members.

1966 -The FFA National AgriculturalCareer Show, a trade show especially for students, exposes national conventionattendees to educational and career opportunities in agriculture. By 1999, 350exhibitors participated and occupied 400,000 square feet.

1969 -Women are allowed nationalmembership, which made it possible for them to hold office and participate incompetitive events at the regional and national level. Prior to this amendmentwomen were permitted membership only at the local and state level. Today, 35% ofFFA membership is female, while 47% of state leadership positions are held bywomen. The National FFA Foundation hires firstfull-time staff member in the Madison, Wis. office, the Wisconsin Secretary ofAgriculture Donald McDowell.

1971 -The National FFA AlumniAssociation is founded, providing opportunities for former FFA members and othersupporters to become involved with their local student chapters. Today, theAlumni Association has 42,000 members.

1974 -Fred McClure of Texas is electednational FFA secretary, becoming the organization"s first African-Americannational officer. McClure would later serve on President George Bush"s staff inWashington, D.C.

1988 -Delegates to the national FFAconvention change "Future Farmers of America" to the "National FFA Organization"to recognize the growth of agriculture and agricultural education to encompassthe more than 300 careers in the science, business and technology ofagriculture. Delegates also opened FFA membership to middle school students.

1991 -The Virgin Islands and Guam aregranted association charters and five chapters from Micronesia are grantedaffiliate chapter charters.

1994 -Corey Flournoy of Chicago, Ill.,is elected national FFA president, becoming the organization"s firstAfrican-American president and first urban student leader.

1996 -FFA announces its move of thenational FFA convention from Kansas City, Mo., to Louisville, Ky.

1998 -The national convention was heldin Kansas City for the last time in November 1998; the convention set anattendance record, drawing 49,240 members, guests and supporters. Additionally,the National FFA Center was moved from Alexandria, Va., to Indianapolis, In. TheNational FFA Center houses the National FFA Organization, the National FFAFoundation and the National FFA Alumni Association. Approximately 1,000 guestsattended the dedication ceremonies on July 20, 1998. And, much like the 1959dedication, members participating in the State Presidents" Conference placed acup full of soil from their respective state at the base of the flagpole.

1999 -The national FFA convention isheld in Louisville, Ky., for the first time and will stay in Louisville through2005; attendance was 46,918.

2000 -FFA continues to expandopportunities for agricultural career preparation by introducing one new careerdevelopment event and two demonstration events. The National FFA Archives,located at IUPUI in Indianapolis, officially opens.