by Philip Paramore
In the foyer of the Agriscience Education Field Office at Auburn is the Alabama FFA Association’s charter certificate. It is dated December 10, 1929, and was signed by the National FFA President, Wade Turner of North Carolina. The National FFA Executive Secretary Henry Groseclose also signed the certificate. Alabama was the 36th state to receive a charter from the National FFA Association. The National FFA Association officially changed its name in 1988 to the National FFA Organization to reflect the growing diversity in the industry of agriculture.
R. E. Cammack served as the first advisor for the Alabama FFA Association and the first FFA Executive Secretary was C.L. Scarborough. Mickey Humphries is the current State Advisor. He served as State Vice President in 1963-64 and was from the Reeltown Chapter (Tallapoosa County). The present FFA Executive Secretary is Jacob Davis.
From the first state FFA officer team in 1929-30 to the current state FFA officer team, there have been approximately 475 young men and women who have served the Alabama FFA Association and its members. From 1929 to 1969, Alabama FFA, like the national organization, was a boys-only organization. Girls were allowed to join FFA in 1969.
From its inception in 1929 until 1944, there were only five state officers serving as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and reporter. In 1944-45 and 1945-46, there was a sixth state officer: sentinel. In 1946-47, the state office of sentinel was discontinued until the 1965-66 school year.
(According to H. N. Lewis, long-time state staff member and former FFA Executive Secretary, the reason there were five state officers was because there were five FFA districts. Thus each district had a state officer. In 1944, when there were six state officers, one district had two officers. Because of the rift between some of the people in the districts, it went back to five officers in 1946.)
Of the 289 chapters in the Alabama FFA Association, 198 or roughly 69 percent have had at least one state officer. From chapters with a single officer to chapters that have had nine state officers, the state association has had a successful 80 plus years. From available records, there has been one state officer who died while in office: Spencer Means, Eutaw Chapter, in 1973-74. And there have been a few resignations as well. One resignation, published in the March 1944 Alabama Future Farmer magazine, of State Secretary was James Paul Wilson of Lexington who was drafted by the army in 1944. Another resignation, published in the March 1945 Alabama Future Farmer magazine, of State Reporter Dan Powell, Jr., of the Leroy Chapter because he was joining the navy.
Ninety or 45 percent of the 198 chapters have had one state officer. Ten chapters have had a president; 22 have had a vice president; 14 have had a secretary; 17 have had a treasurer; 17 have had a reporter; and 10 have had a sentinel. (Remember these numbers include 1929 until present and sentinel election did not occur on a regular basis until 1965.) Be mindful, however, some of these chapters no longer exist, because of school closings, school consolidation and the like.
Forty-seven or 24 percent of the chapters have had two officers in various combinations. Three chapters have had a president and vice president; three chapters have had a president and secretary; seven chapters have had a president and treasurer; four chapters have had a president and reporter; and none have had the combination of president and sentinel.
Two chapters have had a vice president and secretary; none have had a vice president and treasurer; two chapters have had a vice president and reporter; and two chapters have had a vice president and sentinel.
One chapter has had two secretaries; two chapters have had a secretary and treasurer; three chapters have had a secretary and reporter; and three chapters have had a secretary and sentinel.
Three chapters have had two treasurers; two chapters have had a treasurer and a reporter; and one chapter has had a treasurer and a sentinel.
One chapter has had two reporters; four chapters have had a reporter and sentinel; and one chapter has had two sentinels.
Twenty-five chapters have had three state officers in various combinations as well. Three chapters have had two presidents and one vice president; two chapters have had two presidents and a treasurer; one chapter has had a president and two vice presidents; two chapters have had a president, treasurer and reporter; one chapter has had a president, secretary and treasurer; one chapter has had a president and two reporters; one chapter has had a president and two treasurers; one chapter has had a president, vice president and treasurer; and one chapter has had a president and two reporters.
Also in this combination are chapters who have had one vice president, treasurer and sentinel; one vice president, secretary and treasurer; vice president, secretary and reporter; vice president, treasurer and reporter; three secretaries; two secretaries and a treasurer; two reporters and a sentinel; two vice presidents and a reporter; and two secretaries and a vice president.
The stakes rise with chapters that have had four state officers or more. Eleven chapters have had four state officers: Arab – president, reporter and two treasurers; Eclectic (Elmore County) – president and three vice presidents; Elba – one each secretary, treasurer, reporter and sentinel; Eutaw – two vice presidents and two treasurers; Fairhope – treasurer, reporter and two sentinels; Geneva – president, vice president and two secretaries; Gordo – one each vice president, secretary, reporter and sentinel; G. W. Long – three vice presidents and one reporter; Marion – two vice presidents and a secretary and reporter; McAdory – two reporters and a secretary and sentinel; and Notasulga – two secretaries and a treasurer and sentinel.
Nine chapters have had five state officers. The numbers show that the more state officers a chapter has had, the more likely it is for it to have had at least one president. Auburn has had two presidents (three, if you count the same member who served back-to-back years) as well as one vice president, secretary and reporter. Cherokee has had one president, two vice presidents, a secretary and treasurer. Evergreen has had two vice presidents, two secretaries and a reporter. Holtville has had three presidents, a treasurer and sentinel. Kinston has had a president, vice president, secretary and two treasurers; Orrville had a president, two vice presidents and a secretary and treasurer. Ramer had a vice president, secretary and two reporters. Rogersville has had two vice presidents, a treasurer, reporter and sentinel. Sand Rock has had two presidents, a secretary and two sentinels.
Four chapters have had six state officers. Citronelle has had a president, three reporters, a secretary and sentinel. Gaston has had two presidents, three treasurers and a secretary. Red Bay has had two each of vice president, secretary and reporter. Jacksonville has had three presidents, two secretaries and a vice president.
Three chapters have had seven state officers. Falkville has had three presidents, two secretaries, and a vice president and treasurer. Leroy has had four reporters, two treasurers and a sentinel. Marbury has had two presidents, two sentinels and a vice president, secretary and treasurer.
Three chapters have had eight state officers. Enterprise has had two reporters, treasurers and sentinels, and a vice president and secretary. Geraldine has had four secretaries, two vice presidents, and a treasurer and reporter. Wetumpka has had four presidents, two vice presidents, and a secretary and reporter.
Four chapters have had nine state officers. Billingsley has had a president, vice president, two treasurers and four secretaries. Isabella has had a president, treasurer and sentinel, two secretaries and four reporters. Woodland has had three presidents, two vice presidents, three treasurers and a reporter. W.S. Neal has had a president, three vice presidents, a treasurer and four sentinels.
Auburn, Falkville and Gaston are the only chapters to have presidents in back-to-back years. Twelve chapters have had at least two presidents. The Auburn, Holtville, Falkville, Jacksonville and Woodland chapters have had three state presidents. The Wetumpka Chapter has had four state presidents, which is the most presidents from any chapter.
Earnest Thornhill of the Holtville Chapter served as treasurer in 1931-32 and as president in 1932-33. Pete Turnham of the Milltown Chapter served as treasurer in the school years 1936-37 and 1937-38. Joe Bill Knowles of the Headland Chapter served as secretary in 1938-39 and president in 1939-40. L.C. Fitzpatrick of the Gaylesville Chapter served as reporter in 1939-40 and president in 1940-41. Edsel Thomaston of the Kinston Chapter, after military duty in World War II, served as president in 1946-47. He was also married the year he served.
There are probably other officers who served in World War II and were elected as state officers. There are several officers who had a brother and/or sister to serve as state officers, like the Salmon brothers from the Auburn Chapter, the Clary brothers from the Akron Chapter, the Baker brothers from the Eutaw Chapter, the Butts sisters from the Leroy Chapter, the Jones’ brother and sister from the Billingsley Chapter, and the Bailey brothers from the Sand Rock Chapter.
If all these officers were placed in the three districts known today (North, Central and South), percentage wise it is about even. The North District has a slight edge with 37 percent of the officers, because it has more chapters and members. The Central District has had 33 percent of the officers and the South District has had 30 percent of the officers.
Alabama has had 13 national officers. Six served as State President, two as State Vice President, three as State Secretary and one as State Treasurer. Two of the 13 served as National Secretary and the other 11 served as Southern Region Vice President. Two chapters have had two national officers: Clements and Falkville. The Falkville Chapter had officers serve back-to-back as national officers. Three of the national officers were the only state officer from their chapter. Two of the national officers were from chapters that have had nine state officers. In the mid-1990s for three consecutive years, Alabama had a national officer. Four of Alabama’s national officers have been female. The first national officer from Alabama served in 1938-39 and the last served in 2006-07.
Philip Paramore is an Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education.