The Origins and Revisions of the FFA Creed

Document created by Gary E Moore on Jan 16, 2020
Version 1Show Document
  • View in full screen mode

If you are on a 4 x 4 block schedule, you might be getting ready to teach a unit on the FFA. When agriculture teachers teach about the FFA Creed we often teach the following facts:

  • The creed was written by E.M. Tiffany and adopted at the Third National FFA Convention.
  • It was revised at the 38th and 63rd Conventions.
  • We then might discuss the meaning of each paragraph in the creed.
  • We might even mention that E. M. stood for Erwin Milton.
  • And we might even show a video about the Creed (such as 85 Years of the FFA Creed - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCPZ61JEwTo).
  • At some point in time, we might even share the New Farmers of America (NFA) Creed with our students.

But if we wanted to be a true Master Teacher, we would teach much more about the FFA Creed.

 

The Origins of the FFA Creed

 

During the first three years of the FFA there were TWO creeds associated with the FFA. The first two FFA Manuals, printed in 1929 and 1930 contained “The Future Farmer’s Creed.” The following is from the 1929 mimeographed manual:

The Future Farmer’s Creed was an adaptation of “The Country Boy’s Creed” written by Edwin Osgood Grover. It appears the Country Boy’s Creed was used in conjunction with the Boy’s Corn Club activities that preceded the FFA (Hillison, 1993). The Country Boy’s Creed is shown below. Please note the similarities between the two creeds.

 

 

It is unknown exactly who “changed” The Country Boy’s Creed into The Future Farmers Creed. The 1929 FFA Manual does not identify the author of The Future Farmers Creed. It might have been Henry Groseclose. The “Proposed State Organization of Students Taking Vocational Agriculture in Virginia” written by Henry Groseclose in 1926 listed “Recite from memory ‘The Country Boy’s Creed’” as one of the requirements to earn the Virginia Planter degree (the highest degree in the proposed Future Farmers of Virginia).

 

After the decision was made in 1928 to establish the Future Farmers of America, Groseclose traveled to Washington to assist the federal agricultural education officials in writing a proposed constitution that was then shared with the state leaders in agricultural education. Tenney wrote (1977, p. 21):

 

In line with suggestions from the states, a temporary constitution for the Future Farmers of America organization, patterned closely after the Future Farmers of Virginia, was drafted by members of the Agricultural Education Service of the Federal Board for Vocational Education in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 1928….Newman and Groseclose of Virginia were called in from time to time to assist in the work.

 

Tenney (1977) identified five federal officials who worked with Newman and Groseclose on the proposed constitution and practices for the Future Farmers of America. So, the “transformation” of the Country Boy Creed into the Future Farmer Creed could have been a group effort. Since we know Groseclose was intimately familiar with the Country Boy’s Creed, he might have provided the leadership for that effort.

 

However, there was confusion regarding the “Official” FFA Creed because there was a competing Creed. Connors and Velez (2008, p. 101) report:

 

During the summer of 1928, a teacher-trainer in agriculture at the University of Wisconsin, Erwin Milton Tiffany (1929), wrote a creed he called Creed of a Future Farmer. It initially became the Wisconsin FFA Creed and was displayed in 1928 as part of the Wisconsin FFA exhibit for the first National FFA Convention. Following the convention, Tiffany’s creed appeared in the February 1929 issue of The Agricultural Education Magazine (see below).

 

 

So which creed was the official creed of the FFA? Conners and Velez state (2008, p. 101)

The original Future Farmers Creed, published in the first few issues of the FFA Manual, and Tiffany’s Creed of a Future Farmer displayed at the first National FFA Convention and published in The Agricultural Education Magazine, created confusion among FFA members. Which was the official FFA Creed?

 

At the third national FFA convention in 1930, the delegates sought to clarify the situation with the competing creeds. Henry Groseclose, the FFA Executive-Secretary told the delegates that neither creed had been officially adopted by the delegates. Both creeds were then read to the delegates and they voted to adopt the Tiffany creed (see image below from the 1930 Convention minutes).

 

 

The original creed referred to in the minutes was Tiffany’s. A brief article about Tiffany occurred in the Fall 1953 issue of the National Future Farmer Magazine (reproduced below, note: the article says the Creed was adopted at the fourth convention – it was really the third convention).

 

 

Revisions to the Creed

 

There have been only two official revisions to the FFA Creed -- at the 38th convention in 1965 and at the 63rd convention in 1990. However, there have been some editorial changes over the years. The words “can not” found in the 2nd paragraph became “cannot” sometime between 1965 and 1970. Connors and Velez (2008) discovered that the words in the third paragraph  “organized farmers” was changed at some point in time to “enlightened agriculture” and then to “progressive agriculture.” It is now “progressive agriculturalist” as a result of delegate action in 1965.

 

The three versions of the Creed are shown below with the changes indicated.

 

Between 1989 and 1990 a committee worked diligently to revise the FFA manual. Their charge was also to look at the Creed. A new Creed to replace the existing Creed was developed. And that will be the topic for the next Friday Footnote.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Original Creed as adopted at the 3rd Convention (1930)

 

I believe in the future of farming, with a faith born not of words but of deeds — achievements won by the present and past generations of farmers; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come up to us from the struggles of former years.

 

I believe that to live and work on a good farm is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of farm life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I can not deny.

 

I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of organized farmers to serve our own and the public interest in marketing the product of our toil. I believe we can safeguard those rights against practices and policies that are unfair.

 

I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining; in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so — for others as well as myself; in less need for charity and more of it when needed; in being happy myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends upon me.

 

I believe that rural America can and will hold true to the best traditions in our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.

 


38th Convention Revisions – - 1965 [bold means added, strikethrough means deleted].

 

I believe in the future of farming, with a faith born not of words but of deeds — achievements won by the present and past generations of farmers; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come up to us from the struggles of former years.

 

I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuit, is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of farm agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I can not deny.

 

I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of organized farmers progressive agriculturalists to serve our own and the public interest in marketing the product of our toil. I believe we can safeguard those rights against practices and policies that are unfair.

 

I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining; in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so — for others as well as myself; in less need for charity and more of it when needed; in being happy myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends upon me.

 

I believe that rural America can and will hold true to the best traditions in our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.

 


63rd Convention Revisions -1990 [bold means added, strikethrough means deleted].

 

I believe in the future of farming agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds — achievements won by the present and past generations of farmers agriculturalists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come up to us from the struggles of former years.

 

I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuit pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny. 

 

I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of progressive agriculturalists to serve our own and the public interest in marketing the product of our toil.

 

I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining; in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so — for others as well as myself; in less need for charity and more of it when needed; in being happy myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends upon me.

 

I believe that rural America American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions in our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.

 

 

Teaching Ideas

  1. Pass out copies of the two creeds originally associated with the FFA between 1928 and 1930 and have your students analyze each to identify sections they like or don’t like.
  2. Have your student examine the 1930 creed and then look at the 1965 and 1990 revisions. Have them speculate as to why the changes were made. Are there other changes they would suggest being made?

 

References

Connors, J. & Velez, J. (2008). The Contributions of E.M. Tiffany and the FFA Creed to Leadership Development Within the FFA. Journal of Agricultural Education. Volume 49, Issue 2. Pp. 98-107.

Groseclose, H. C. (1926). Proposed State Organization of Students Taking Vocational Agriculture in Virginia. This document is in the appendix (starting on page 110) of Bryant, B. W. (2001). History of the Virginia FFA Association. Doctoral Dissertation. Blacksburg: Virginia Tech.

Hillison, J. (1993). The role of Virginia in the development of the FFAJournal of Agricultural Education, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp. 37-45.

Tenney, A. W. (1977). The FFA at 50. National FFA Organization, Alexandria, Virginia. 

1 person found this helpful

Attachments

    Outcomes