How the National FFA Organization got started
The National FFA Organization now has more than 700,000 members representing 8,612 chapters across the United States.
The organization has been going strong for almost 100 years and its beginning can be traced all the way back to Virginia in 1925. That year, four agricultural educators at Virginia Tech began the Future Farmers of Virginia, which would later serve as the model for the Future Farmers of America.
"In my opinion, the farm boys of Virginia who are enrolled in vocational agriculture are equal to any other group of boys in the State. But somehow the boys themselves seem to have a feeling of inferiority. Especially is this true when the farm boy goes to the city and has to compete with his city cousin," Walter Newman, one of the founding members, said in September of 1925. "This condition should not exist. I believe that a strong organization of our boys in agriculture would help them to overcome this handicap. Let's form an organization that will give them a greater opportunity for self-expression and for the development of leadership. In this way, they will develop confidence in their own ability and pride in the fact that they are farm boys."
Newman, along with Harry Sanders, Edmund Magill, and Henry Groseclose are recognized as the FFV's founding members.
By September of 1927, the model used in Virginia had spread to five other states.
These were the goals of the early organizations:
- To promote vocational agriculture in rural high schools
- To create more interests in intelligent agricultural pursuits
- To create and nurture a love of country life
- To provide recreation and educational entertainment for students of vocational agriculture through state agricultural and athletic contests, vacation tours, father and son banquets and the like
- To promote thrift
- To afford a medium or cooperative marketing and buying
- To establish the confidence of the farm boy in himself
- To promote scholarship and rural leadership
The next year, the first National FFA Convention was held in Kansas City, Missouri. The convention featured 33 delegates from 18 different states and Leslie Applegate from New Jersey was elected the first national FFA President.
By 1929, the National FFA Organization was here to stay. Membership had swelled to 35 state associations, 1,500 chapters and 30,000 total members nationwide. That very same year, National Blue and Corn Gold were selected as the organization's official colors.