In March, we celebrate Women’s History Month and all the achievements made by women throughout history. In the National FFA Organization, women have played an important role in molding and developing the organization. With a little over 50 years of women officially being a part of the National FFA Organization, the impact has been a major benefit to the organization. However, the most exciting part of women’s role in FFA is the future and what they will continue to contribute to the organization.
In 1969, women were officially recognized as members of the National FFA Organization (at that time known as Future Farmers of America). The original 1928 constitution for the Future Farmers of America said active membership would be open to “any student.” However in 1930, FFA delegates changed the FFA constitution to “any male students.”
After the vote in 1969 to allow female students to participate, history was made.
According to the National FFA Organization, 44 percent of all FFA members identify as women. Females also hold approximately 50 percent of state leadership positions. However, some states have a unique state representation of strong female leadership. For example, the first all-female West Virginia FFA State Leadership team was elected this year.
Each of these women have found their way in this historic moment.
West Virginia FFA Southwestern Vice President Chloe Gilkerson said, “Realizing that, as a state where we are all females, that we can really make an impact on the younger generations of females that maybe are too afraid to try because their chapter offices are mainly male.”
Listen to their their story below.
Not only do females hold a high percentage of state leadership positions, but over 80 different women have been elected to the National Officer team. In 1976, Julie Smiley from Washington became the first woman to serve at the national level as the western region vice president. Additionally, in 1982, Jan Eberly from California made FFA history when she was elected as the first female national FFA president. Thankfully, she was not the last female to lead the organization to new heights.
However, there are even more amazing stories from women involved in FFA who did not hold a national position. To measure the success of a leader is not defined by their title, but rather the impact they made on those around them. Every leader starts somewhere, so do not be afraid to take that leap and start your leadership journey, as so many brave women have done during their time in FFA.
While reflecting on the monumental history of women in FFA and the bright future of the organization, Molly Ball, president and chief marketing officer of the National FFA Foundation told the FFA New Horizon magazine, “The anniversary of female membership has brought some really wonderful stories to light. While women haven’t always worn the blue jacket, they have been a part of shaping our organization since the very beginning. Women are doing amazing things in science, in corporate agriculture and on their farms. These past few years have brought a level of openness and conversation that we haven’t had until recently.”
Female FFA members may not have initially been involved in FFA, but once they were active members, they created positive change. Many female FFA members continue to be trailblazers in this organization.