The FFA creed, written by E.M. Tiffany, has influenced countless members since its adoption. Tiffany created it for the Wisconsin FFA during the third National FFA Convention. In a way, it is a rite of passage for members. As new members, memorizing the creed is one of the first activities they are assigned and has helped transform shy and nervous kids into well-speaking and confident members. Most members can recite it for the rest of their lives, but not many know of its origin.
The FFA creed has been revised two times, during both the 38th and 63rd National Conventions. It was created to allow the members to focus on the benefits of agriculture, the rich history of the industry, and their future role in agriculture. The original creed was adopted in 1930 after various drafts were proposed.
Previous to the founding of the FFA, there were two other creeds used by boys’ and girls’ agricultural clubs. These were titled, “The Country Girl’s Creed” and “The Country Boy’s Creed.” Both have similarities to the modern FFA creed used today.
During the first five years of the organization, members were often confused due to two versions of the creed being printed: Tiffany’s version and the Future Farmers Creed. Both versions were printed in the Agricultural Education Magazine, so during the third convention, delegates read, voted on, and established Tiffany’s version as the official creed for the FFA. His won in a vote of 39 to 16. It was still known as the Future Farmers Creed, and eventually was referred to as the FFA creed.
Twenty-five years after Tiffany’s creed was made official, members decided it was time to revise the original to better fit all students in agriculture. In a study about the history of the creed, the National FFA Manual Revision Committee and Board stated, “The purpose of revising the Creed is to make it more nearly fit all students of vocational agriculture. After brief discussion, it was decided to refer the suggested revisions to the convention Committee on Ceremonies and Rituals, and then to the delegates for official action.” However, this caused some disagreement around the country. Many people voiced their support or disapproval in regards to changing the decades’ old creed. Due to this conflict, the creed was slightly revised, but never completely re-written.
Since the first creed was established, there has been a Spanish version released, and Creed Speaking Contests have been created by FFA Chapters to help students with public speaking abilities. The creed is sentimental to current and past members, the words are lived by each member, and guide them into their future careers in the agricultural industry. E.M. Tiffany said, 20 years after he penned the original:
“I have often said that it is the organization that has made the Creed what it is; and, it is the work of the members and the leaders that has made the organization what it is. Without these, the Creed itself would be meaningless. With them, it may, and I fervently hope that it does contribute vitally to the spirit which is essential to achievement.”
Markie Hageman majored in agribusiness at Fort Hays State University. She is actively involved in her state Cattlemen’s Association, Young Farmers chapter, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Her AGDAILY.com articles can be found here.