Tom Vilsack addressing group of FFA students

USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

As National FFA week drew to a close this past week, the organization reflected on the many ways it has evolved since its inception in 1928. Now, approaching the 100th anniversary, the organization boasts nearly 8 million FFA alumni worldwide, and with chapters in all 50 states, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The famous blue corduroy jackets merged with the New Farmers of America (an African-American farm organization) in 1965, and permitted women to join in 1969. It wasn’t until 1988, prompted by the 1980s farm crisis that the organization changed its name from Future farmers of America to “FFA”.

Many influential leaders and entertainers have roots in the agriculture-focused organization, including former President Jimmy Carter, country stars Johnny Cash and Tim McGraw and NASA astronaut Ellison Onizuka.

Read more on the evolution of FFA through the years.