The last act of the NFA-FFA merger occurred in Kansas City, Missouri on October 13, 1965. There was a dramatic and emotional ceremony during the opening session of the National FFA Convention to recognize the joining of the two groups.
During the opening session, FFA President, Kenneth Kennedy introduced the last NFA President, Adolphus Pinson of Texas for some remarks (see below).
Here is what Pinson said:
To me this occasion is momentous and I am happy to have a part in it along with my former fellow national NFA officers and national chorus. We were pleased to have vice president Bobby Page bring greetings from the FFA to the final National NFA Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, last week.
We view with pride the 31 years of NFA progress and accomplishments in developing agricultural leadership, cooperation, citizenship and patriotism. Confidence of farm boys and young men in themselves has been strengthened, intelligent choice of agricultural occupations increased, love and nurture of country life deepened, rural homes and surroundings improved, cooperative efforts encouraged, scholarship enhanced, and organized recreation for rural people provided.
In this merging the New Farmers of America with the FFA we are pleased to bring into the folds of the Future Farmers more than 50,000 students of vocational agriculture who believe in the dignity of farm work and that we shall prosper in proportion as we put knowledge and skill into agricultural occupations. We further believe that the life of service is the life that counts; that happiness endures to mankind when it comes from having helped lift the burdens of others, and that the practice of cooperation in agriculture is essential. We believe, like you, in the ability of organized farmers to serve our own and the public interest in marketing the products of our soil and that we can safeguard those rights against practices and policies that are unfair.
Please be reminded that the spirit of the New Farmers of America does not die here today. Rather we awake into the dawn of a new day. Together we walk into the dawn as Future Farmers and toward a fuller realization of our educational aim and purposes.
There is an established philosophy that in unity there is strength. May this merger prove valuable to all. May you find strength in us and we in you. May this occasion prove to be an additional stone to be used in building a stronger foundation in agriculture for the future of our great country — America the Beautiful.
After Pinson’s remarks, the following ceremony ensued.
NFA PRESIDENT PINSON – President Kenneth, as the last President of the New Farmers of America, I am duly authorized to transfer to you the National NFA Charter, together with the permanent record of officers of the organization. Also, to inform you that the total membership of 50,807 students of vocational agriculture in 12 states are now active members of the Future Farmers of America. Will you please place the Charter, along with other symbols the past National Officers of the NFA will present to the National FFA Officers in Archives at the FFA Building in Mt. Vernon, Virginia.
FFA PRESIDENT KENNEDY (KY) – Adolphus, I’m proud to accept the NFA Charter in behalf of the FFA and to assure you it will be placed in a prominent place at our National Headquarters Building. Will my fellow officers, and the past NFA officers with you, please take your stations for the presentation of the NFA symbols.
NFA VP, ESCO HALL (GA): Vice President Larry, the NFA Guide contains the NFA Constitution and the Program of Work along with other information. I hereby present this Guide to you for the FFA Archives.
FFA VP, LARRY PREWITT (MO): Thank you, Esco, I assure you this will be done.
NFA 2ND VP, JAMES R. BROUSSARD, (LA.): Vice President Bob, all students of vocational agriculture now work together under the National Blue and Corn Gold Banner of the FFA, therefore, I submit to you the NFA Banner to be placed in the Archives of the FFA.
FFA VP, BOB PAGE (GA): Thank you, James. I will see that this is properly done.
NFA TREASURER, ROY WILLIAMS (NC): Vice President Joe, I present to you this picture of Booker T. Washington, who has inspired NFA members to make sound financial investments and savings. I am also turning over to you a copy of the 1963-64 audit, a copy of the 1965 audit will be forwarded to you just as soon as it is completed. Our financial records show we have $20,000 in savings, and a substantial checking account which we are transferring to the FFA Treasury.
FFA VP JOE PERRIGO (NH): Thank you, Roy. I will place the picture in the FFA Archives and transfer your financial records to the National FFA Treasurer, Mr. Julian Campbell.
NFA SECRETARY, ALBERT L. TICE, (FL): Secretary, Green, the NFA Secretary corresponded with secretaries wherever cotton is grown and New Farmers met. May I give you this boll of cotton and a copy of the minutes of the last National NFA Convention.
FFA SECRETARY, EVAN GREEN (CO): The boll of cotton and your minutes will be placed in the Archives as a record of your business transactions.
NFA REPORTER, GEORGE WINGFIELD (AR): Vice President Ivan, the NFA Flag which I present to you covered all chapters where the NFA was organized. Now that we are all under one flag it is my hope that you will place the NFA Flag in the FFA Archives.
FFA VP IVAN HUNT (AZ): I’m proud to accept this flag, George, and I assure you your request will be carried out.
NFA ADVISER, G. W. CONOLY, FLORIDA A & M COLLEGE: Dr. Tenney, I have served at the station of the owl and given advice and counsel just as H. 0„ Sargent did before me, when he served thousands of students of vocational agriculture who were members of the NFA. I give you this picture of Dr. Sargent so that it can be placed in the Archives?
NATIONAL FFA ADVISER, DR. A. W. TENNEY: I will be pleased to do this
NFA PRESIDENT PINSON TOOK OFF HIS NFA JACKET: Kenney, you asked that my NFA Jacket be presented along with the other NFA symbols. I’ve worn this jacket proudly, and I’m pleased to present it to you for the FFA Archives.
FFA PRESIDENT KENNEY: Adolphus, this jacket, along with the other NFA symbols, so nicely presented, will occupy a prominent place in the FFA Archives at the National FFA Building? This beautiful three-story building is located on what was once part of George Washington’s Estate and is owned by the FFA. We are proud of it and want all FFA members to know it is open to them to visit and enjoy
However, there was another part upon which we agreed and that was for the FFA to give you a FFA Jacket for your NFA Jacket. The exchanging of this NFA Jacket for the FFA Jacket by you, the last NFA President, symbolizes the joining together all students of vocational agriculture into one great organization. We must all work together to develop occupational competency, agricultural leadership, cooperation and citizenship.
The two presidents then walked to the edge of the stage and shook hands. This ceremony concluded the joining of the two groups.
Cecil Strickland, the author of New Farmers of America in Retrospect: The Formative Years 1935-1965, concluded his chapter on the merger with these thoughts (Strickland, 1994, p. 47):
Thirty years of service; thirty years of developing agricultural leadership, cooperation, citizenship and patriotism among young men in the New Farmers of America Organization was now history. . .The New Farmers of America Organization left a great legacy to be forever remembered by all those who were affiliated. The organization touched many people, resulting in enriched lives, happiness and contentment to all.
When I think of the New Farmers of America, a song from the 1967 movie Camelot comes to mind. This movie is about King Arthur and the Kingdom of Camelot. At the end of the movie, Richard Harris (who played the role of King Arthur) is reminiscing about the glory days of Camelot and sings the song Finale Ultimo (YouTube link). As I listen to this song, I mentally replace the word “Camelot” with “New Farmers” or “NFA”. Try it. The last four lines of the song go like this:
Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot the NFA
- Print out the NFA-FFA merger ceremony and have your chapter officers reenact the ceremony for your other classes.
- Play the Finale Ultimo song from Camelot and ask your students to mentally replace the word Camelot with NFA.
- Have your students rewrite the Finale Ultimo song with agricultural and leadership terms that describe the New Farmers of America (the lyrics can found here).
Footnote: The Strickland book and the New Farmers of America Record, Louisiana Association, 1935-1965 both carry the verbatim transcript of the merger ceremony. How did the Official Proceedings of the 1965 FFA convention report on the ceremony? There is an entry on page 13 that states “A ceremony to symbolize the joining of the NFA and FFA was conducted by the last National NFA Officers and Current National FFA Officers.” That is basically it other than a two-sentence quote from Pinson’s address on page 33 later in the proceedings that starts three pages of quotes from numerous convention speakers.
Strickland, Cecil (1994). New Farmers of America in Retrospect: The Formative Years 1935-1965. Homestead, TX: Joyco Printing.