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Youth Organizations

National Future Farmers Of America Organization

Future Farmers of America (FFA), officially called the National FFA Organization, is an educational organization for high school and college students who are interested in agriculture. The National FFA Organization works in conjunction with the National FFA Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that seeks partnerships with corporations, foundations, and government agencies to help provide funding for FFA programs. The FFA's main objective is to develop in its members qualities of leadership, character, scholarship, cooperation, and citizenship through agricultural education. The FFA is an integral part of many high school agriculture programs. The organization operates in cooperation with the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education, as well as with state and local boards for vocational and agricultural education.

Program

The FFA offers a variety of programs designed to supplement schoolwork by encouraging the practical application of classroom instruction in agricultural science. Many FFA programs also offer information and incentives for students wishing to pursue a career in agriculture. Local FFA chapters sponsor educational tours, agriculture workshops, and on-the-job training. Local chapters also organize recreational activities and hold their own award ceremonies and fund-raisers. The National FFA Organization helps local chapters by supplying program guidance and materials, by offering scholarships and awards, and by sponsoring an annual FFA week, an annual national convention, and agri-science fairs with activities at the local, state, and national level. In addition, the national organization sponsors numerous conferences and workshops covering many agriculture-related topics, and publishes a quarterly student magazine called New Horizons, a monthly member newsletter called Update, and Making A Difference, a bimonthly magazine for FFA chapter advisers.

The FFA's many programs include the New Century Farmer Program, which helps young people become aware of new opportunities in twenty-first century agriculture. New Century farmers are sent on traveling seminars to meet with and learn from innovative professional farmers and agriculture educators around the country. FFA Global Programs send members to foreign countries where they can learn the value, traditions, and role of agriculture in other cultures.

Because the majority of FFA members hope to pursue careers related to agriculture, the FFA sponsors numerous career development events at the chapter, state, and national level. These events help members explore the hundreds of career options available in the modern agriculture industry, from agronomy to food technology, forestry, floriculture, agricultural communications, and environmental and natural resources management. The FFA also provides information, incentives, and financial aid to members who wish to become college and high school teachers of agriculture.

Another career development program, Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE), offers members an opportunity for handson application of the agricultural skills and principles they learned in the classroom. A student involved in SAE may be placed in an agriculture-related job or may start his or her own agriculture-related business under the guidance of an adult mentor.

In 1984 the National FFA Collegiate Scholarship program was established to counter a trend toward rising costs and declining enrollment in agricultural colleges. Each year, the National FFA Organization awards more than $1 million in scholarships to hundreds of FFA members. Many FFA scholarships are sponsored by local businesses and national corporations.

Among the numerous awards offered by FFA are the H. O. Sargent Award, which recognizes FFA members who have actively supported cultural diversity in agriculture. The award is named in honor of H. O. Sargent (1875–1936), an agricultural educator who worked to establish an organization similar to FFA for African-American students.

The National FFA Organization also presents three annual Honorary American FFA degrees for exceptional adult teachers and other individuals who have demonstrated support for agricultural education. The annual VIP awards and distinguished service citations are given to individuals, agencies, and organizations that have made a continued contribution to agricultural education over a long period of time.

FFA star medals are awarded to outstanding FFA members of differing age and grade levels. Star Discovery medals for seventh and eighth graders and Star Greenhand medals for exceptional first-year members are awarded at the chapter level. Star Farmer, Star Agribusiness, and Star Agriscience medals are given to outstanding members involved in SAE programs; these awards are given at the chapter, state, and national level. State-level star awards include a $200 prize. National-level star awards include prizes of $1,000 to $2,000.

Organization

Local FFA chapters are usually organized at a high school, with the school's agriculture and science teachers serving as chapter advisers. All chapters within a state belong to the state FFA association, which is headed by an adviser and executive secretary.

The National FFA Organization is governed by a board of directors and a board of student officers. The elected officers of the adult board include a president, four vice presidents representing different regions in the United States, and a secretary. The board of directors also includes several members of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education. Student officers are elected each year by the national convention delegates. State associations and local chapters elect their own officers annually.

The National FFA Foundation is administered by a board of trustees representing the businesses, industries, organizations, and individuals who have agreed to sponsor FFA activities. The foundation board also includes representatives from state FFA associations, vocational agriculture teachers, and members of the Vocational and Adult Education Division of the U.S. Department of Education.

Membership

Any boy or girl aged twelve to twenty-one who is enrolled in an agriculture course or program is eligible to become a member of FFA. The FFA also includes honorary and alumni members.

History

The FFA was organized in 1928 and was chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1950. In 1965 a similar organization for African-Americans called the New Farmers of America merged with the FFA. Women were accepted as national FFA members for the first time in 1969, although some chapters had accepted women members much earlier. In 1988 the organization changed its name from Future Farmers of America to the National FFA Organization. In 2001 the FFA had approximately 457,000 active members in more than 7,300 urban, suburban, and rural high school chapters located in all fifty states, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

INTERNET RESOURCE

NATIONAL FFA ORGANIZATION. 2002. <www.ffa.org>.

A. DANIEL Reuwee

Revised by

JUDITH J. CULLIGAN

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comEducation EncyclopediaYouth Organizations - Big Brothers Big Sisters Of America, B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, Boys And Girls Clubs Of America - AMERICAN FIELD SERVICE