Follow the Leader (2/7/2020)

When you were younger did you play “Follow the Leader”? If the leader jumped, you jumped. If the leader skipped, you skipped. And so forth. Would it surprise you to learn that most Vocational Student Organizations (VSOs, now known as CTSOs – Career and Technical Student Organizations) followed the leadership of the FFA in creating creeds.

The FFA was the first CTSO. The New Farmers of America came along in the 1930s. Most of the other CTSOs were established in the 1940s and later. They all have creeds. So how similar or different are the creeds of our brother and sister organizations?

Since February is Career and Technical Education Month it is appropriate that we learn more about the other CTSOs and their creeds.

The New Farmers of America (NFA). The national organization for African American students in segregated schools came into being in 1935 (but was merged with the FFA in 1965). It was modeled after the FFA. None of the documents about the history of the NFA provide any detail about the development of the Creed. Since H.O. Sargent and George Washington Owens were instrumental in establishing the NFA it is possible they were responsible for the creed.

The Creed reads:

I believe in the dignity of farm work and that I shall prosper in proportion as I learn to put knowledge and skill into the occupations of farming.

I believe that the farm boy who learns to produce better crops and better livestock; who learns to improve and beautify his home surroundings will find joy and success in meeting the challenging situations as they arise in his daily living.

I believe that rural organizations should develop their leaders from within; that the boys in the rural communities should look forward to positions of leadership in the civic, social and public life surrounding them.

I 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.

I believe in the practice of cooperation in agriculture; that it will aid in bringing to the man lowest down a wealth of giving as well as receiving.

I believe that each farm boy bears the responsibility for finding and developing his talents to the end that the life of his people may thereby be enriched so that happiness and contentment will come to all.

Future Homemakers of America (FHA). The FHA officially began in June of 1945 with an organizational meeting in Chicago. However, many high schools had clubs with the name Future Homemakers of America in operation long before the national organization came into being. The FHA changed their name in 1999 to Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).

The current FCCLA creed reads:

We are Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America.
We face the future with warm courage and high hope.
For we have a clear consciousness of seeking old and precious values.
For we are the builders of homes, Homes for America’s future.
Homes where living will be the expression of everything that is good and fair.
Homes where truth and love and faith and security will be realities, not dreams.
We are Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America.
We face the future with warm courage and high hope.

The only difference in the original and current creed is in the first and seventh lines. The original creed stated, “We are the Future Homemakers of America”.

Some FHA creeds were in existence before the founding of the national FHA and they were substantially different. Below is a 1934 FHA Creed from Dunn County  (WI) School of Agricultural and Domestic Economy. It is courtesy of David Laatsch.

New Homemakers of America (NHA). Just as there was an organization for African American agricultural students in segregated schools, there was a parallel organization for home economics students – the New Homemakers of America. The NHA and FHA merged in 1965. Their creed was:

We, the New Homemakers of America, believe that:

If there is kindness and truth in the heart, there will be beauty in the spirit.
If there is beauty in the spirit, there will be harmony and love in the home.
If there is love and harmony in the home,
There will be justice in the Nation.
If there is justice in the Nation,
There will be peace in the world.

Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) – The FBLA started in 1940 for business students. In 1958 a postsecondary division was created and identified as Phi Beta Lambda. It is not uncommon to see FBLA-PBL in the literature. The FBLA-PBL Creed is:

I believe:

  • education is the right of every person.
  •  the future depends on mutual understanding and cooperation among business, industry, labor, religious, family, and educational institutions, as well as people around the world. I agree to do my utmost to bring about understanding and cooperation among all of these groups.
  • every person should prepare for a useful occupation and carry on that occupation in a manner that brings the greatest good to the greatest number.
  • every person should actively work toward improving social, political, community, and family life.
  • every person has the right to earn a living at a useful occupation.
  • every person should take responsibility for carrying out assigned tasks in a manner that brings credit to self, associates, school, and community.
  • I have the responsibility to work efficiently and to think clearly. I promise to use my abilities to make the world a better place for everyone.

Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) -This organization for students in Distributive Education, now identified as Marketing Education started in 1946 (some sources say 1947). In 1991 it was decided to identify the organization by its initials – just DECA.

The DECA Creed is:

I believe in the future which I am planning for myself in the field of marketing and management, and in the opportunities which my vocation offers.
I believe in fulfilling the highest measure of service to my vocation, my fellow beings, my country, and my God–that by so doing, I will be rewarded with personal satisfaction and material wealth.
I believe in the democratic philosophies of private enterprise and competition and in the freedoms of this nation–that these philosophies allow for the fullest development of my individual abilities.
I believe that by doing my best to live according to these high principles, I will be of greater service both to myself and humankind.

At one time there was a student organization known as the Future Businessmen of America that was a part of Distributive Education.

Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA). In 1965 representatives from 14 states met in Nashville, Tennessee to create VICA and decided on the name, colors, motto, purposes and goals. VICA officially changed to SkillsUSA–VICA on July 4, 1999. In 2004 the organization’s name officially changed to SkillsUSA. The Creed states:

I believe in the dignity of work

I hold that society has advanced to its present culture through the use of the worker’s hands and mind. I will maintain a feeling of humbleness for the knowledge and skills that I receive from professionals, and I will conduct myself with dignity in the work I do.

I believe in the American way of life

I know our culture is the result of freedom of action and opportunities won by the founders of our American republic, and I will uphold their ideals.

I believe in education

I will endeavor to make the best use of knowledge, skills and experience that I will learn in order that I may be a better worker in my chosen occupation and a better citizen in my community. To this end, I will continue my learning now and in the future.

I believe in fair play

I will, through honesty and fair play, respect the rights of others. I will always conduct myself in the manner of the best professionals in my occupation and treat those with whom I work as I would like to be treated.

I believe satisfaction is achieved by good work

I feel that compensation and personal satisfaction received for my work and services will be in proportion to my creative and productive ability.

I believe in high moral and spiritual standards

I will endeavor to conduct myself in such a manner as to set an example for others by living a wholesome life and by fulfilling my responsibilities as a citizen of my community.

SkillsUSA (previously VICA) was preceded by the Future Craftsmen of America which was started in 1936. It was designed for students in Trade and Industrial Education and those in Industrial Arts. A committee met at the national FFA Convention in 1935 to plan for the establishment of the Future Craftsmen of America.

The American Vocational Association approved the formation of this group and provided startup funds (School Life, 1936, January). However, that organization eventually folded, probably in the early 1950s. A thesis written in 1955 had as its purpose to compile a report which should be of assistance in reactivating the Future Craftsmen of America or in forming another such organization (Greenbaum, Leonard. 1955. The History and Development of the Future Craftsmen of America. Wayne University, Detroit).

Business Professionals of America (BPA). This organization started out as the Office Education Association (OEA) in 1966. The name was changed in 1988. Over the years there has been some confusion about which organization, FBLA or OEA, was the official student organization for business students. Both organizations were recognized by the Federal government. The state-level leadership for business education often chose which organization would be emphasized at the state level.

Searching for the BPA creed was an interesting exercise. I could not find it on the national web site, in the national resource guide for teachers, or on most state BPA web sites. But I did find it in the Delaware BPA web site. Apparently, the organization is de-emphasizing the creed.  The creed of the BPA is:

I believe in the future which I am planning for myself in the area of business occupations and in the opportunities which my vocation offers.

I believe in fulfilling the highest measures of service to my vocation, my fellow beings, my country, and my God.

I believe in the democratic philosophies of private enterprise and competition and in the freedom of this nation and that these philosophies allow for the fullest development of my individual abilities.

I believe that by doing my best to live according to these high principles I will be of greater service to both myself and to mankind.

Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) – There were many state and local organizations of health students (such as Future Nurses of America) since the early 1960s. Finally, in 1976 a meeting was held in Arlington, TX to officially launch the Health Occupations Students of America. A creed was adopted in 1980. It reads:

I recognize the universal need for quality, compassionate healthcare.
I understand the importance of academic excellence, skills training, and leadership development in my career pathway.
I believe through service to my community and to the world, I will make the best use of my knowledge and talents.
I accept the responsibility of a health professional and seek to find my place on a team equally committed to the well-being of others.
Therefore, I will dedicate myself to promoting health and advancing healthcare as a student, a leader, an educator, and a member of HOSA-Future Health Professionals.

Technology Students of America (TSA). This student organization was established as the American Industrial Arts Association in 1978. In 1988 the members voted to change the name to the Technology Student Association.

The creed is:

I believe that Technology Education holds an important place in my life in the technical world. I believe there is a need for the development of good attitudes concerning work, tools, materials, experimentation, and processes of industry. Guided by my teachers, artisans from industry, and my own initiative, I will strive to do my best in making my school, community, state, and nation better places in which to live.

 I will accept the responsibilities that are mine. I will accept the theories that are supported by proper evidence. I will explore on my own for safer, more effective methods of working and living. I will strive to develop a cooperative attitude and will exercise tact and respect for other individuals. Through the work of my hands and mind, I will express my ideas to the best of my ability. I will make it my goal to do better each day the task before me, and to be steadfast in my belief in my God, and my fellow Americans.

Concluding Remarks and Teaching Ideas

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines creed as “a set of fundamental beliefs”. It is appropriate that our CTSOs have codified their fundamental beliefs into a creed. We might want to spend a little more time discussing the importance of a creed with our students.

You might consider

1. Sharing the various CTSO creeds with your students and have them select the top three creeds and tell what they liked about the various creeds they selected.

2. Asking the students to write a personal creed.