In the fall of 1926, Henry C. Groseclose, who is now known as the Father of FFA, was given the assignment to create an emblem for the Future Farmers of Virginia. Numerous sketches were prepared centering on the traditional lamp of learning. However, none of the sketches seemed appropriate for the organization. In 1927, Groseclose received information from Chris L. Christensen about agriculture organizations in Denmark. With the materials received, a picture was created of an owl perched on the handle of a spade standing in a field with the sun rising behind it. From this picture, the original emblem was created.
From the original Virginia FFA emblem, the first national FFA emblem was created in 1928 with the additions of a cross section of an ear of corn, an American eagle, the letters "FFA" and the words "Vocational Agriculture." The current FFA emblem was changed in 1988 by replacing the words "Vocational Agriculture" to "Agricultural Education." The current FFA emblem has been in effect since 1988.
Many organizations have a graphic or visual representation of their organization. However, the FFA emblem is much more than that. Each part of the FFA emblem stands for something as well as the emblem itself and its members. The FFA emblem is composed of six parts:
1. The cross-section of an ear of corn serves as the foundation of the emblem, just as corn has served as a foundation crop in American agriculture. Corn is also a symbol of unity because it is native to America and is grown in every state.
2. The Rising Sun represents progress and a new era in agriculture. The demand on American agriculture has increased greatly as our population rises and the number of American farmers dwindles. The Rising Sun shows the confidence FFA members have in the future of American agriculture.
3. The Plow is a symbol of labor and tillage of the soil, the backbone of agriculture and the historic foundation of our country’s strength.
4. The Owl represents the knowledge and wisdom necessary to success in the agricultural industry.
5. The Eagle perched high on top of the emblem symbolizes the large national scope of agriculture and the FFA. The Eagle reminds us of our freedom and ability to explore new horizons for the future of agriculture.
6. The words "Agricultural Education" are carefully positioned around the perimeter of the circular emblem with the words "FFA" in the center. These words and their purposeful placement show FFA must be in the center of a successful agriscience program.
These parts make up one of the greatest known graphics of American agriculture today, the FFA emblem. This emblem represents agriculture and every present, past and future FFA member. This emblem represents excellence. I personally remember the first time I ever put on my blue corduroy jacket with the large emblem on the back. I knew I was part of something great. I knew I was joining the FFA and agricultural family in fighting the battle of providing our country with enough food and fiber to sustain it. I realized the emblem did not just represent me or my Brantley FFA Chapter; it represented every man and woman who had labored in agriculture throughout history and every man and woman who had ever proudly worn that emblem.
Now that I am an adult, I can no longer fit into my jacket, but I always strive to find ways to display an FFA emblem. This year, I am excited about an opportunity to display the emblem in a whole new way in Alabama. The Alabama FFA Foundation has successfully submitted an application for a vanity vehicle tag. The Alabama FFA Foundation is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization established in 1977. The sole purpose of the foundation is for the benefit of the Alabama FFA Association. The Alabama FFA Foundation Specialty Tag is now available for pre-commitments at your county tag office. Persons desiring to support FFA in Alabama by purchasing pre-commitments must complete a Commitment to Purchase application for the Alabama FFA Foundation distinctive plate and remit the additional tax-deductible $50 fee to their county license plate issuing office. The Commitment to Purchase application can be completed even if it is not time for your tag to be renewed or if you have already renewed your tag this year. Once the pre-commitments meet the required amount, applicants will be able to return to the county office and receive their license plate.
We know many of you are already dedicated to various agriculture vanity tags in Alabama. We understand and respect that and are not trying to compete in any way. However, for the thousands of agricultural supporters in Alabama who currently do not have a specialty tag, we ask you to consider this great opportunity. The FFA Tag will support the more than 34,000 agriscience students in Alabama by providing numerous leadership opportunities, opportunities to enhance their agricultural skills and recognize students for outstanding agricultural achievements. Your funds will be used to support the Alabama FFA Association as it continues to prepare students to become productive leaders in the agricultural industry.
We must have 1,000 commitments before November 30, 2012, in order for the FFA Tag to ever make it to printing. We really need your support to make this happen. The cost of $50 is minimal for displaying your pride in such a long-running and active organization continuing to impact young people today, just as it has since 1928. So before you renew your tag this year, please consider supporting this student-led organization continually striving to provide the agricultural industry with outstanding leaders.
For more information about the Alabama FFA Association and the FFA tag, please visit www.alabamaffa.org.
Chris Kennedy is a Central District Specialist with Alabama FFA Association.