BY DOUG GRAVES
FFA was officially formed in 1928 and had the name Vocational Agriculture prior to this time. Despite the turmoil times of the 20th century, FFA has held its own.
1930s – The FFA saw steady growth in the 1930’s. The late 20’s and early 30’s were difficult times for the nation due to the great depression. However, Vocational Agriculture (and FFA) flourished due to its vital role in making agriculture more productive and efficient. Enrollment increased by nearly 1,000 students each year.
1940s - On the home front, every man, woman and child joined an intense war effort in support of their loved ones overseas. Gas rationing, tire shortages, war bonds, victory gardens and blood drives were the talk of the day. FFA members joined the effort of serving their communities by holding scrap metal drives, helping with victory gardens, canceling activities to save gas, and buying enough war bonds to purchase a bomber, which was christened “The Ohio Future Farmer”.
1950s - Many activities were held in honor of FFA’s Silver Anniversary. Governor Frank J. Lausche presented an official proclamation. Other youth organizations, adult organizations, press and radio saluted “FFA at 25”. Local chapters conducted numerous activities and state convention featured the anniversary. The notoriety afforded to FFA in recognition of its Silver Anniversary helped propel the program to new heights. Student interest was strong and their good work paid off in many successes. The 50’s were good years for FFA in Ohio.
1960s – This decade was known for new legislation and new programs.New Legislation. In 1963, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that was to have a major effect on Vocational Agriculture. The new law, PL88-210, commonly known as the Vocational Agriculture Act of 1963, provided for the preparation of students of high school age for careers in off-farm agriculture industries in addition to the well-established program of preparing students for farming. This legislation had far-reaching effects on the Vocational Agriculture Program.
1970s - The Golden Anniversary celebration marked one of FFA’s greatest achievements in history. FFA membership reached nearly 24,000 and program quality was at an all-time high. A grand statewide celebration was held at the 1978 State FFA Convention. Leaders in Ohio Agriculture and Education joined over 3,000 FFAers, teachers, parents and friends to honor FFA…one of Ohio’s major youth organizations, on its Golden Anniversary.
Agricultural policy opened world markets and farming was very prosperous. Demand was great and production was expanded. However, inflation was out of control. Farmers went in debt to buy land and were paying the debt with inflated dollars. This was good until the central bank raised the interest rates as high as 20%, which put the agricultural economy into a tailspin.
1980s - The Agriculture of the 80’s (even then the nation’s most important industry) experienced some difficult times in the 80’s. Surpluses brought on a period of declining market prices and land values. Farm consolidations continued the trend of the 70’s and government programs were improved to protect the family farm. Other segments of Ohio Agriculture, including Horticulture, Forestry, Resource Conservation, Supplies and Services and others continued to be a vital part of the Ohio, National and World economy.
1990s – By this time there is a change in dominant culture as the nation’s population is becoming more diverse. Urban agricultural program growth becomes more aggressive, the movement of curriculum integration causes an emphasis in agricultural education curriculum to identify connections to basic reading, science, and math foundations. Curriculum expansion reflects new dimensions and career paths in the agricultural industry. During this decade there is the need for upgrading teacher education and giving school children that “supervised agriculture experience”, or SAE.
2000 - Agricultural of the 2000s reveals that new programs, gender balance, new curricula, new technology, new activities, expanded leadership development activities, and new professional development opportunities are all taking form. However, the foundation principles of Agricultural Education have not given way. FFA is leading the way with career exploration in and about agriculture, personal growth and leadership development and much more