FUTURE FARMERS OF AMERICA
Oklahoma schools established vocational agriculture programs after the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917. In May 1927 vocational agriculture students attending the annual interscholastic meeting at Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University, OSU), Stillwater, organized the Future Farmers of Oklahoma (FFO). The new organization included chapters at Collinsville (Charter Number 1), Mulhall, Clinton, Ralston, and Utica. The first elected state FFO president was Ralph Runnels of Claremore.
At the 1927 Tulsa State Fair the state FFO officers and representatives decided to send a delegate to Kansas City, Missouri, to attend the first national convention of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). During the event the FFO became affiliated with the FFA and received Charter Number 7 on December 20, 1928. In 1932 Vernon Howell of Guymon became the first of six Oklahomans, more than any other state, to serve as national FFA president during the twentieth century. The FFA became officially known as the National FFA Organization in 1988.
The executive committee of the Oklahoma FFA chapter purchased a state facility at Watts in 1931. The camp operated until it was sold during World War II. A new FFA building was dedicated at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in September 1941 after Oklahoma Future Farmers participated in a successful "gold bricks" fund drive to ease construction costs.
The 1960s brought increased membership. The New Farmers of America, an organization for African American students, consolidated with the FFA in 1965. More members were admitted in 1969 when girls were allowed to join the organization. The Oklahoma FFA Alumni Association was established in 1971, and the Oklahoma FFA Foundation was organized in 1985. Both of the latter groups support programs, sponsor the Alumni Leadership Camp, and provide funds for awards and scholarships.
By the end of the twentieth century Oklahoma had the nation's third-largest FFA membership with 22,245 members in 354 high school programs under 432 local chapter advisors. In 2000 a total of 1,144 members attended the annual Alumni Leadership Camp, and more than 8,000 attended the state FFA convention in Oklahoma City.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Danny M. Boyd, "FFA Organization Boasts Long History of Service," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 20 September 1998. Jim Etter, "FFA Blooms in Oklahoma," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 28 April 1993. "FFA's New Name Deletes 'Farmers,'" Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 11 November 1988. "Oklahoma FFA," A. Webster Tenney, The FFA at 50: 1928-1978 (Alexandria, Va.: FFA Supply Service, 1977).
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