Non-Constitutional FFA Officers (05/29/2020)

It is a pleasure to welcome Dr. Jim Connors from the University of Idaho back for another Friday Footnote appearance. I hope you enjoy reading this Footnote as much as I did.

FFA members and advisors are well aware of the traditional FFA officers that chapters have elected for decades.  These include the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Reporter, Sentinel, and Advisor.  However, as Dr. Moore has already informed us in a previous Friday Footnote, one officer, the Sentinel, was missing when the FFA was established in 1928.  That office actually began as the Watchdog, but was eventually changed to the Sentinel (Moore, 2018).

This Friday Footnote will focus on the other FFA officer positions.  Many FFA chapters elect junior officers, Greenhand officer teams, or assistant officers.  The three most common non-constitutional officers are the Parliamentarian, Chaplain, and Historian.  It is these three officers that we will discuss today.

The first Official FFA Manual, published in 1929-1930, only listed 6 officers: President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Reporter, and Advisor.  However, the Greenhand Initiation Ceremony included the position of Farm Watch Dog (Moore, 2018).  At the 1943 National FFA Convention the Committee on Official Manual recommended that, “Wherever the word ‘Watchdog’ is used, the word ‘Sentinel’ be substituted when referring to the respective ceremonies” (Future Farmers of America, 1943). Additional action was taken in 1951 to include the Sentinel as an official FFA officer in the manual.

            It was moved by Foltz of Ohio that the Board of Student Officers and Board of Directors be given authority to include a part for the Sentinel in the Official FFA Manual; motion seconded by Dillon of Louisiana and carried. (Future Farmers of America, 1951, p. 23)

A year later in 1952, Leo Clark, delegate from California, moved that the “FFA adopt the bulldog as a symbol for the Sentinel,” however, the motion was lost. Eugene Weaver of Indiana then, “Moved that the FFA adopt a resolution to accept the emblem for the Sentinel’s post that is symbolic of friendship and that the decision be left up to the National Board of Directors and Student Officers.” The motion was adopted.  Obviously, the board selected the Hand Clasp as the symbol for the Sentinel position (Future Farmers of America, 1952, p. 23).

While the FFA Constitution and Bylaws only listed the six constitutional officers and the Advisor, it did allow chapters to elect other officers.  The National Constitution and By-Laws Future Farmers of America that was revised and amended at the Twelfth National Convention in 1939 stated that chapters could elect “Other officers may be designated if desirable” (Future Farmers of America, 1939, p. 35).

 Throughout the years, various delegate committees at the national convention would often make recommendations related to the offices of parliamentarian, chaplain, and historian.  Below are the list of some of these recommendations:

Year Convention Committee Recommendation
1993 66th Student Publications (Manual) Include optional parts of parliamentarian, chaplain, and historian in the installation ceremonies.

(FFA, 1993, p. 69)

2000 73rd FFA Publications To add non-constitutional officer parts (historian, parliamentarian and student advisor) for opening ceremonies to the Official FFA Manual.

(FFA, 2000, p. 70)

2001 74th FFA Publications Include optional officer ceremony parts in the manual. Some of the parts that should be added to both the written ceremony pages and the meeting room arrangement page include: the parliamentarian, chaplain, and historian. (FFA, 2001, p. 72)

Officer Duties

Over the years the Official FFA Manual would contain recommended duties for the Parliamentarian, Chaplain, and Historian positions.  The 2000-2001 manual included duties for all three offices.  However, the 2006-2007, 2008-2009, and 2009-2010 editions of the manual did not include the office of Chaplain.  The duties of the Chaplain reappeared in the 2014 and 2015 manuals.  It would be interesting to know why the position was removed from the manual for several years and why it reappeared.  The duties for each office are listed in their respective sections below.


While the Parliamentarian has never been an official FFA office listed in the constitution and/or bylaws, many local FFA chapters and state associations identify a Parliamentarian.  The President usually appoints an individual who is knowledgeable about parliamentary procedure.  However, I’m sure there are chapters who annually elect a Parliamentarian.

Many state FFA associations also identify a Parliamentarian.  Here in Idaho, the FFA member who scores the highest on the Society for Agricultural Education Parliamentarians (SAEP) Accredited Parliamentarian (AP) exam is named the Parliamentarian for the annual Idaho FFA State Leadership Conference.  The National FFA also identifies a professional parliamentarian to serve during the Delegate Business Sessions at National FFA Convention.  At the 9th National FFA Convention in 1936 Delegate Annis of Idaho “Moved that Henry Groseclose be designated as national parliamentarian for the F.F.A. organization” (Future Farmers of America, 1936, p. 18).  The motion was adopted, and Henry Groseclose served as the Parliamentarian in addition to his regular office of National FFA Treasurer.


The duties of the parliamentarian are:

  1. Be proficient with parliamentary procedure
  2. Rule on all questions of parliamentary conduct at chapter meetings.
  3. Serve as a participant or an ex-officio member of the parliamentary procedure team.
  4. Conduct parliamentary procedure workshops at the chapter level.
  5. Chair or serve as ex-officio member on the conduct of meetings committee.

Opening Ceremony Part

Even though several Delegate Committees called for them, the FFA manuals did not include recommended parts for opening and closing ceremonies.  Even though the manual doesn’t include parts for the officers, they are readily available on the internet.  The following are three different options for the Parliamentarian part:

            It is my obligation to know and share information about parliamentary law and assist members in proper meeting procedure and etiquette so that we can accomplish the business of the chapter. I assure that every member will be heard and that the majority will prevail.

            I serve as an advisor and consultant to the President and members on procedural matters. I keep in my possession a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order, our Constitution and By-Laws and the Official FFA Manual. It is my duty to see that parliamentary procedure is carried on efficiently.

            Parliamentarian advises members of correct parliamentary law, helps maintain correct procedure at FFA meetings, and makes sure all meetings are fair and impartial.

Station Marker

One question that is unresolved is where the Parliamentarian is stationed.  Example 1 above has the Parliamentarian stationed by a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order. The correct reference should actually be Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.  Although according to the National FFA Organization, this is incorrect.  The Parliamentarian is actually stationed by the Fasces.

For those who are not steeped in history, the fasces is a bundle of rods and among them an ax with projecting blade borne before ancient Roman magistrates as a badge of authority.  Below is a picture of the current station marker for the Parliamentarian office.

Figure 1: Parliamentarian Station Marker – Fasces


In 1955, the delegates at the national convention considered adding the office of Chaplain. The Florida association proposed an amendment to the national constitution to add the office of chaplain to the rank of national officers.  After considerable debate over two business sessions on consecutive days, it was moved by Colvin of Oregon to reject this amendment to the National Constitution.  The motion to reject was carried and no national chaplain was added (Future Farmers of America, 1955, p. 22 & 24).

Just two years later in 1957, the issue of adding new officers came up again at the national convention:

Don Thoren of Wyoming made a motion that the National Board of Student Officers and National Board of Directors consider approving offices for Chaplain and Parliamentarian, that this be inserted in the Manual and these 2 offices be used on a State and National level…After considerable discussion Carl Kozuma of Hawaii moved that this motion be postponed indefinitely.” (Future Farmers of America, 1957, p. 27)

This motion was finally killed when the motion was postponed indefinitely.  It is clear that no national FFA chaplain position was ever created.  However, it is unknown if any state FFA associations ever appointed or elected a Chaplain.  It would be interesting to know the current status of the Chaplain position within state associations and local FFA chapters.


The duties of the Chaplain are:

  1. Present the invocation at banquets and other functions.
  2. Coordinate FFA participation at local area churches during FFA Week.
  3. Conduct reflections services at summer camps and conferences.

These were the Chaplain duties listed in the 2000-2001 manual.  However when the Chaplain’s duties reappeared in the 2014 manual duty #2 to coordinate FFA participation at local area churches during FFA Week was removed.

Opening Ceremony Part

The following are two different options for the Chaplain’s part in opening ceremonies:

            It is my duty to insure that our membership be mindful of a need for spiritual development. It is my responsibility to provide for a spiritual presence in the development of our membership and foster positive, moral participation in the activities of the chapter and the lives of our members.

            The Bible has served mankind for many years. We have in our motto living to serve. May we use the Bible to guide both our faith and service to our fellow man.

 Station Marker

This brings up a controversy about where the Chaplain is stationed.  The second example above has the Chaplain stationed by the Bible.  This leads to the question of why by the Bible? The National FFA is a non-religious, non-denominational, youth organization. Having the Chaplain stationed by the Bible would in essence be endorsing the Christian faith. Could the Chaplain be stationed by the Torah, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or another faith’s devotional book?  What about stationing the Chaplain by a cross or a menorah?  None of these examples should be used. In their infinite wisdom, the National FFA solved this issue by having the Chaplain stationed by the Dove, a universally accepted symbol of peace.

Figure 2: Chaplain Station Marker – Dove  


As the Future Farmers of America grew, there was an obvious need to record important historical information about the organization. The need for a Historian was first discussed at the 8th national convention in 1935. The proceedings of the convention read:

            The president then pointed out that as it now stood no national officer of the organization was officially designated as the F.F.A. Historian and the time had arrived when historical records should be gathered together before the organization became any older. It was moved by Hovland of North Dakota, duly seconded and carried, that the Executive Secretary of the F.F.A. be designated as the Historian for the Future Farmers of America. (Future Farmers of America, 1935, p. 18)

At that time the Executive Secretary was W.A. Ross.  It is not known if this designation continues.  The National FFA Archives was formed many years ago and are currently housed at Indiana University Purdue University – Indianapolis (IUPUI). FFA historical records can be accessed on their website at:


The duties of the local FFA Chapter Historians are:

  1. Develop and maintain a scrapbook of memorabilia in which to record the chapter’s history.
  2. Research and prepare items of significance of the chapter’s history.
  3. Prepare displays of chapter activities and submit stories of former members to the media.
  4. Assist the reporter in providing photography for chapter needs.

Opening Ceremony Part

The following are three different options for the Historian’s part in opening ceremonies:

I keep a record of the past and present activities of the chapter and its members.

Tradition and history are a source of pride for our organization. It is my duty to maintain a record of chapter achievements and promote excellence through highlighting activities, events and accomplishments so that our chapter membership is motivated by our past successes and looks to future achievements.

I keep a record of the past and present activities of the chapter and its members. I organize the chapter scrapbook and serve as a reference on chapter history. A good record of chapter accomplishments can be a credit to the chapter.

 Station Marker

As with other offices, there are different ideas about where the Historian is stationed.  The options include being stationed by the chapter’s historical records, by the chapter scrapbook, or even by the eagle. The National FFA has the Historian stationed by a historical scroll.

The definition of a scroll are:

  • A roll (as of papyrus, leather, or parchment) for writing a document.
  • A riband with rolled ends often inscribed with a motto.

The official officer station marker for the Historian contains a scroll inscribed with the first paragraph of the FFA Creed.

Figure 3: Historian Station Marker

Conclusions and Recommendations:

 The three most common non-constitutional officers in the FFA organization are the Parliamentarian, Chaplain, and Historian.  Most would agree that local FFA chapters, state associations, and the national FFA all could benefit from appointing or electing a Parliamentarian and Historian. The Chaplain position is probably most logical at the local level.  However, in order for the FFA to be inclusive of all people and all faiths, the Chaplain should not be stationed by the Bible. Based on the national FFA officer station markers that are sold to local FFA chapters, the three officers should be stations as follows:

Office Station Marker
Parliamentarian Fasces
Chaplain Dove
Historian Scroll

Even though delegate committees have requested opening ceremonies for these officers, the national FFA has never officially adopted parts for the offices. In order to eliminate different versions being used by local FFA chapters, the national FFA should propose parts for the Parliamentarian, Chaplain, and Historian in opening ceremonies. These parts could be officially adopted by the National FFA Board of Directors or the delegates at the national FFA convention.

The offices of Parliamentarian, Historian, and Chaplain have been, and will continue to be important offices for the FFA organization.  More emphasis should be given to these positions in the Official FFA Manual and opening ceremonies.

Suggested Activities:

  1. If your chapter does not appoint or elect these officers, discuss this among your current constitutional officers, or at a chapter meeting to determine if your chapter would benefit from selecting members to serve in these positions.
  2. Determine if your state association elects or appoints these offices.  What duties do they conduct on the state level?
  3. Research the career fields of parliamentary procedure, historian, or chaplain/clergy.
  4. Visit the webpages for the following parliamentary procedure organizations to determine the requirements for receiving a professional parliamentarian credential


Future Farmers of America (1935).  Proceedings of the 12th national convention Future Farmers of America. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior – Office of Education.

Future Farmers of America (1939).  Proceedings of the 12th national convention Future Farmers of America. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior – Office of Education.

Future Farmers of America (1939).  Proceedings of the 12th national convention Future Farmers of America. Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Education.

Future Farmers of America (1943).  Proceedings of the sixteenth national convention Future Farmers of America. Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Education.

Future Farmers of America (1951).  Proceedings of the 24th national convention Future Farmers of America. Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Education.

Future Farmers of America (1952).  Proceedings of the 25th national convention Future Farmers of America. Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Education.

Future Farmers of America (1955).  Proceedings of the 28th national convention Future Farmers of America. Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Education.

Future Farmers of America (1957).  Proceedings of the 30th national convention Future Farmers of America. Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Education.

Moore, G. (2018).  FFA manual.  Friday Footnote.  Retrieved from:

National FFA Organization (1993).  Proceedings of the 66th national FFA convention, Vol. LXVI. Alexandria, VA: Author.

National FFA Organization (2000).  Proceedings of the 73th national convention Future Farmers of America, Vol. LXXIII. Indianapolis, IN: Author.

National FFA Organization (2001).  Proceedings of the 74th national convention Future Farmers of America, Vol. LXXIV. Indianapolis, IN: Author.