By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
National FFA Week is celebrated this week, Feb. 20 – Feb. 27, by FFA chapters around the country, including our own Licking Future Farmers of America chapter. The weeklong tradition began in 1948 in recognition of George Washington’s example and legacy as a leader and farmer.
Activities have been somewhat curtailed this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and more recently the inclement weather and dismissal of classes has put a damper on plans for the week. Necessity dictated the cancellation of the annual community FFA breakfast on Feb. 20, which usually kicks off National FFA Week locally.
The Licking chapter is one of 8,739 local FFA chapters nationwide, with chapters representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Local students comprise 65 of the 760,113 student members, ages 12 – 21, in grades 7 -12 and college, nationwide. For many, student membership does not end their involvement with FFA, as there are 2,557 FFA Alumni Chapters, with an FFA Alumni Membership of 544,985.
Mr. Van Kirkwood, Licking R-VIII Agriculture teacher, guides the local chapter in their agricultural education. The curriculum emphasizes the importance of agriculture, not only at a personal level, but up to a global level as well. Freshman AG-1 students focus on animal science and welding shop. Sophomore AG-2 students study plant science and continue in shop. Juniors can choose between vet science and animal science, while senior choices include Ag Construction and welding. All classes include math and science skills with hands-on experience. Student member education also incorporates leadership skills, personal growth, development of life skills and future career success. Character development, citizenship, communication at all levels and healthy lifestyles are promoted. Kirkwood consistently makes a positive difference in the lives of his students within the activities of the organization, both in the educational setting and in outside-related activities.
FFA activities may include: Career and Leadership Events, Proficiency Awards, Agriscience Fair, National Chapter Award, American FFA Degree, National FFA Convention, National FFA Week, 212° (Boiling point of water) Conference (Leadership), 360° Conference (Full circle leadership) and many others that instill the FFA Code of Ethics.
FFA is not just for farmers; students also become leaders in science-related fields, finance and business, and as veterinarians, teachers, entrepreneurs, government officials and professionals in many careers.
Perhaps we would all do well to practice the FFA Motto: Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.
We look forward to hearing about Licking FFA’s activities, seeing photos and reading their submissions in a future edition of The Licking News.
For more information about Future Farmers of America visit www.ffa.org.
Historical highlights of Future Farmers of America
1917 – The Smith Hughes Act was enacted. The act promoted vocational education in agriculture, trades and industry, and homemaking, and provided federal funds to accomplish its purpose.
1925 – Virginia Tech agricultural education teacher educators Henry Groseclose, Harry Sanders, Walter S. Newman and Edmund C. Magill organized the Future Farmers of Virginia (FFV) for boys in agriculture classes. FFV served as the model for the future FFA.
1928 – Future Farmers of America was established in Kansas City, Mo. The first National FFA Convention was held in Kansas City, Mo., where 33 delegates from 18 states were in attendance.
1929 – National blue and corn gold were adopted as Official FFA Colors.
1930 – The Official FFA Creed, written by E.M. Tiffany, was adopted. The First National Public Speaking event was held; the winner was Missourian Edward Drace. The First Official Dress Uniform was adopted; a dark blue shirt, blue or white pants, blue cap and yellow tie. The First Official FFA Manual was printed.
1933 – The well-recognized blue corduroy jacket was adopted as official dress.
1950 – President Harry S. Truman signed a bill passed by the 81st Congress of the United States granting FFA a federal charter; the bill became Public Law 81-740.
1952 – The first issue of The National Future Farmer magazine was published.
1953 – The U.S. Post Office Department issued a special stamp to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of FFA.
1969 – FFA opened membership to females.
Multiple presidents have consistently addressed students at National FFA Conventions.