FFA: A Brief History
In 1928 Future Farmers of America was established to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding the growing American population through agricultural education. In that same year the first National FFA Convention was held in Kansas City, Mo. In attendance at the convention were 33 delegates from 18 states including: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Today, the National FFA Organization boasts more than 700,000 members from all walks of life who live by the FFA motto of “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live and Living to Serve.” The organization features a three-tier structure of local chapters, state associations and the national association which all work together to act on recommendations from national delegates and educational stakeholders as well as to set the vision and policy for FFA.
1917 Smith-Hughes Act: A federal act that focused on agriculture, home economics and the trades. Considered “America’s first step in transforming education.”
1926 A group of Virginia Tech educators organize Future Farmers of Virginia for boys in agriculture classes. The FFV served as the model for the Future Farmers of America.
1927 H.O. Sargent, a federal agent for agricultural education for African-Americans, and G.W. Owens write the first constitution and bylaws for the New Farmers of Virginia, an organization for African-American agriculture students. The organization holds its first state rally the same year.
1928 Future Farmers of America (FFA) is established in Kansas City, Mo. The first National FFA Convention is held in Kansas City, Mo. The convention is attended by 33 delegates from 18 states.
1929 National blue and corn gold are adopted as official FFA colors.
1933 The iconic FFA blue corduroy jacket was adopted as Official Dress. A group of FFA officers and members made a pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., where they were greeted on the White House lawn by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1935 The New Farmers of America (NFA) founded in Tuskegee Ala.
1937 During the national convention, action taken to establish a national FFA camp and leadership training school in Washington, D.C.
1942-1945 FFA members join the war effort.
1947 The First National FFA Band performs at the national FFA convention.
1950 President Harry S. Truman signed the bill that granted the FFA a federal charter and it became Public Law 81-740.
1952 First issue of The National Future Farmer magazine published.
1953 The U.S. Post Office Department issued a special stamp to celebrate the 25th anniversary of FFA.
1959 First National FFA Center is dedicated in Alexandria, Va.
1964 FFA sells one-millionth jacket
1965 New Farmers of America (NFA) Merges with FFA
1969 FFA opens membership to females
1970 The first female delegates attend the national FFA Convention.
1973 Fred McClure from Texas is the first African-American elected to a national FFA office.
1974 President Gerald Ford speaks on live network television at the National FFA convention.
1975 Food for America program is launched. Former FFA member and future U.S. President Jimmy Carter Speaks at the National FFA Convention.
1976 Marks the first year a female holds a national FFA office.
1980 The National FFA Foundation raises $1 million in one year.
1982 First female becomes national president of the FFA.
1987 The first national television broadcast of the National FFA Convention airs. Vice President George H.W. Bush speaks at the convention.
1988 Future Farmers of America changes its name to the National FFA Organization to represent the growing diversity in agricultural education and career exploration.
1994 The First African-American is elected national FFA president.
1996 FFA.org Web site debuts.
1998 First FFA member from Puerto Rico serves as a national officer.
2002 The 75th National FFA Convention is held in Louisville KY.
2003 FFA Live! Launches on RFD-TV.
2004 First live webcast of the National FFA Convention premieres on FFA.org.
2005 The National FFA Foundation tops the $10 million mark in money raised for FFA programs and services.
2009 FFA Celebrates 40 years of females in the organization.
2011 FFA Celebrates Native Americans in agriculture.
2012 Patrick Gottsch donates $1 million on behalf of RFD-TV to the National FFA Organization, the single-largest unrestricted donation in the organization’s history.
2014 FFA members earn a record 3,765 American FFA Degrees. Five FFA jackets are donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
2017 Student membership hits an all-time high with 653,359 members in 8,568 chapters.