By Grace Smith
||The FFA Wall of Honor’s primary purpose is to recognize outstanding individuals in the agriscience field, whether they are education teachers or other leaders from all aspects of the industry, who have help support students involved in agriculture.
As we grow older and our lives begin to change, it is important to reflect on those individuals who helped us to grow and mature into successful men and women. We, of course, recall the guidance of our parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and pastors. But for many a more unlikely individual comes to mind.
Many agriscience education teachers have an unmistakable influence in the communities where they teach, inspiring students to accomplish goals they may have never considered attainable. In the mid 90s, the Alabama FFA State Officer Alumni Association found a way to honor these individuals who devoted countless hours for the advancement of young people in agriculture.
"A lot of people don’t realize how much influence an ag teacher is to a community until they sit down and research the teacher’s history in that community," said Laymon Phillips, a member of the State FFA Officer Alumni Association. "The Wall of Honor was set up as a way to say ‘Thank You’ to the men and women who have sacrificed so much of their time to develop leaders in agriculture."
While agriscience educators make up almost 90 percent of the names appearing on the plaque, the selection of inductees has grown to incorporate other contributors. Leaders from all aspects of the industry who have supported students involved in agriculture can be added to the wall. Inductees include Doug Rigney, Alabama’s deputy commissioner of agriculture; Dr. Billy Powell, executive director of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association; Jerry Newby, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Governor Bob Riley.
Recognizing these outstanding individuals is a primary purpose of the FFA Wall of Honor, but it has one other important purpose. In order for an inductee to be added to the wall, an individual must raise $1,000 in honor of that inductee. This money is given to the Alabama FFA Foundation which sponsors several FFA scholarships and contests called Career Development Events.
"The Alabama FFA Foundation was founded in 1977 as a 501(C)(3) organization," Troy Newton, Alabama FFA Association executive director said. "It was set up as an endowment that would earn interest which would be used to supply the Alabama FFA Association with money to fund awards and contest fees."
The Wall of Honor has proven to be a success raising over $120,000 all of which has been donated to the FFA Foundation. 119 names appear on the wall, including 11 for 2007.
"The Wall of Honor is important to the Alabama FFA for two reasons," said Paul Pinyan, president of the alumni association. "It gives people a chance to recognize outstanding contributors to the Alabama FFA Association and it provides funding to help further develop the state association."
Anyone interested in adding an individual to the FFA Wall of Honor can contact Troy Newton at (334) 242-9114.
Grace Smith is an associate editor for AFC Cooperative Farming News.