Reciting the FFA Creed has become—in its own, unique way—a rite of passage. While almost every FFA member (past and present) can still recite at least parts of the creed, most probably don’t know much about its origins. Here is a quick history lesson.
The FFA Creed was written in the summer of 1928 by Professor Erwin Milton Tiffany, who was the chief teacher in the Department of Agricultural Education at the University of Wisconsin. Tiffany was developing an exhibit for the first FFA convention. He had prepared several charts and tables showing the various programs of instruction in Wisconsin.
Tiffany writes, "Somehow, I got the idea that a statement of ideals for the FFA might fit in with the exhibit. The creed is the result of that idea. It was lettered on sign cloth and included with the rest of the exhibit materials that were shipped to Kansas City."
When his creed was adopted in 1930 at the third FFA convention, Tiffany was pleased. However, he wanted to make sure credit was placed where he felt it was due. In a statement clarifying his thoughts, Tiffany wrote, "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."
In 1932, Tiffany was asked to send a message to the national FFA convention delegates. He wrote, "The Future Farmers of America are required to memorize something we call a creed. Ever since thinking, hopeful men have inhabited the earth, they have been gibbering creeds. If any good has come from it, the virtue is not in the creed, nor in the gibbering, but in the nobility of mind, which prompts men to ponder over their ideals.
"If the creed of the Future Farmers of America is an expression of faith worthy of so vigorous an organization, it must be more than a part of a prescribed ceremony; it must be an active force of thought working its way anew through the minds of everyone who makes its words their own. I hope the creed is virile enough to engender such a response."
What inspired Tiffany?
Luckily, Tiffany captured his thoughts regarding the creed, and they are stored in the National FFA Archives. In an answer to a question regarding his inspiration for the creed, Tiffany wrote, "There is enough inspiration in each word of the organization’s name to call forth the highest hopes, the deepest concern, the profoundest regard, the strongest determination to carry forward the ideals, never realized in full, but without which the farmer would remain forever the man with a hoe."
Who Was E.M. Tiffany?
|Adapted from "FFA Advisors Making a Difference"- Aug/Sep 2005|