Tomorrow (February 20) starts National FFA Week. How long have we been celebrating National FFA Week and how did it get started? That is what we will learn in the Footnote.
Before you read any further please open the “FFA Week Quiz” and complete it.
Then continue reading this Footnote. You can grade your quiz as you read.
(1). Prior to the establishment of National FFA Week there was a National FFA Day. Who originally came up with the idea of a National FFA Day?
The idea of having a national FFA day originated with a FFA convention delegate during the 6th national FFA convention. Here is what the proceedings of that convention report (pages 13-14).
Stewart of Montana requested the floor at this time to present a matter of general interest. He suggested the idea of having a special Future Farmer Day some time during 1934, preferably on one of the regular national F.F.A. broadcasting days. It was pointed out that the various State Associations could perhaps plan special state broadcasts also on that day and that chapters might plan their Father and Son banquets on the date specified. The idea seemed to meet with general delegate approval and after some discussion it was moved by Stewart that the Board of Trustees arrange for such a day; motion passed.
(2). In what year was a motion made at the National FFA Convention to establish a National FFA Day?
The 6th national FFA convention was in 1933. It was at this convention the delegates voted to establish a National FFA Day
(3). In the first few years the celebration of National FFA Day occurred:
In Stewart’s discussion of establishing a national FFA Day, he suggested it be held during a regular national F.F.A. broadcasting day. Between 1931 and 1944 the FFA presented 157 radio broadcasts on the NBC Radio Network as part of the National Farm and Home Program (Hillison, 2001).
Apparently, Stewart’s suggestion was well received. In 1935 National FFA Day was held on March 11 in conjunction with a FFA Board of Trustees meeting. There was to be a special radio broadcast on that date (Messenger-Inquirer, Owensburg, KY, March 7, 1935).
In 1936 National FFA Day was celebrated on April 13. That was to celebrate the completion of five years on the FFA national radio program on the NBC Farm and Home Hour (Mason Valley News [Yerington, Nevada] April 10, 1936).
Figure 1. An advertisement for the National FFA Radio Program (circa 1930s). This artifact hangs in my home office..
(4). Starting in 1938 the celebration of National FFA Day occurred:
At the National FFA Convention. The proceedings of the National FFA Convention for 1938 (which was held October 17-21) verified National FFA Day occurred at the National Convention (p. 53), “Since Tuesday was National F.F.A. Day, it was appropriate that Tuesday night be set aside at the convention for a special observance of the occasion.” Then all the activities of the celebration were described.
In 1938 the FFA Board of Trustees went on record as favoring the permanent establishment of one day during the National F.F.A. Convention to be observed as National F.F.A. Day. (Minutes of the Board of Trustees October 1938, p. 3). Even though this decision was declared while the Trustees met at the National Convention in 1938, it appears to have been a ratification of what was currently transpiring at the national convention.
National FFA Day was observed for the next decade during the National FFA Convention, typically on Tuesday.
In the book Reporting FFA News (1941) Charles Rogers suggests using National FFA Day as a way for local chapters to gain publicity. In addition to providing ideas, he also included a sample news release. He indicated it should be sent to papers prior to the national convention. See Figure 2.
Figure 2. From Reporting FFA News
It appears someone in California was paying attention to what Rogers wrote. In October of 1941 twenty-nine newspapers in California carried nearly the exact same story. In Figure 3 below you will notice the paragraph that starts with “The 195 Future Farmer chapters” is nearly identical to the sample news release in Reporting FFA News. This came from the Fresno Bee.
Figure 4. From the Fresno Bee The Republican (CA), October 19, 1941
(5). The New Farmers of America (NFA) celebrated NFA day on April 5. This date was selected because:
NFA day was celebrated on the birthday of Booker T. Washington – April 5. Typically, a variety of activities were planned as the following two newspaper articles attest.
Figure 5. An article from the Weimar Mercury (TX), April 11, 1963
Figure 6. An article from the Clayton Record (AL), May 14, 1954
(6). In what year did National FFA Day become National FFA Week?
At the FFA Board of Trustees meeting in July of 1947 the decision was made to have a National FFA Week (Page 6, July 19, 1947):
It was moved by Mr. Nichols that the week of Washington’s birthday be designated as National F. F.A. Week starting in 1948; motion seconded by Student Secretary Shober and carried.
The Fresno Bee (CA) article “Future Farmer Week is Set for February 21-27 (dated February 8, 1948) states that “The National FFA Week replaces a single day of observance…”
However, the motion of the FFA trustees might have been the proverbial closing of the barn door after the horse got out. There is some evidence that FFA week observances were occurring prior to this motion. In That Inspiring Past: The Future Farmers of America in Minnesota we find mention of Future Farmer Week in early 1947. It is stated (p. 69):
Another way of acquainting the public with the FFA is Minnesota FFA Week which was first started in 1947 when Governor Youngdahl officially proclaimed the week of February 19 to 26 as Future Farmer Week in Minnesota as part of the national commemoration of the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act providing financial support to vocational agriculture in high schools of the United States and its possessions and to commemorate George Washington’s birthday.
In 1946 (October 26) the Hanford Morning Journal (CA) in an article titled “Greenhand Degree is Given Future Farmer Candidates:” used the phrase “This being National Future Farmer Week.” And that was in 1946.
The report of the Program of Work Committee at the 1948 FFA convention contained:
Activity: Continuing National F.F.A. Week
Goals: 100% of State Associations Participating
Ways and Means:
- Set aside week of George Washington’s Birthday as National F.F.A. week
- Send out suggested materials for F.F.A. week program
It is logical that National FFA Week had been occurring previously if the Program of Work is to continue FFA Week.
A search of Newspapers.com reveals a plethora of local stories about National FFA Week for the year 1948. It appears that National FFA Week officially started in 1948 even though there is evidence that it might have started earlier.
(7). When FFA Day became FFA Week the decision was made to celebrate the event during the week of:
George Washington’s birthday. George Washington has always been an integral part of the FFA. To learn more, check out the Friday Footnote titled George Washington and the FFA which was published on March 29, 2019.
(8), The focus of the first National FFA Week celebration was:
It would be logical to assume the first national FFA week would have George Washington as the focus of the week. In 1948 many FFA chapters had special activities focused on George Washington. An example is the Evergreen FFA Chapter in Louisiana. They had a radio program on “George Washington and the FFA.” See Figure 7.
Figure 7. From The Weekly News, Marksville, LA. February 21, 1948
(9). Monday, February 22 of the 2021 National FFA Week Celebration is:
The National FFA has designated themes for each day of National FFA Week. The themes this year are:
Sunday, Feb. 21 – SAE Sunday
Monday, Feb 22 – Service and Advocacy Day
Tuesday, Feb. 23 – Alumni Day
Wednesday, Feb 24 – Ag Teacher Appreciation Day
Thursday, Feb. 25 – Give FFA Day
Friday, Feb. 26 – National Wear Blue Day
(10). What company is selling paper FFA emblems during the 2021 National FFA Week to support the Grants for Growing program
Tractor Supply Company will be selling FFA paper emblems during FFA week to raise money for the Grants for Growing program. The sale of paper emblems started this past Wednesday (Feb. 17) and will continue through February 28. FFA chapters are encouraged to advertise and support this activity. Any size donation for the emblem is appreciated.
Figure 8. Tractor Supply Company Emblem Sales.
The money raised will support the Grants-For-Growing program. FFA chapters can receive up to $5,000 to grow their classroom, chapter, or ag awareness. More detail can be found at https://www.ffa.org/grants-for-growing/.
Even though it is a little late to be planning FFA week activities there are some last-minute things that can be done. There are a variety of resources at https://www.ffa.org/national-ffa-week/. If nothing else, you could give this quiz to your students and discuss the importance of FFA week. Let’s celebrate FFA.
Hillison, J. & Williams, S. (2001). When FFA was King of the Radio Airways. Journal of Agricultural Education. Volume 42, Number 2, pp. 11-17. DOI: 10.5032/jae.2001.02011.
Mueller, Agnes Harrington (1955). That Inspiring Past: The Future Farmers of America in Minnesota, 1930-1955. Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul.
Rogers, Charles (1941). Reporting FFA News. The Iowa State College Press. Ames.