By Philip Paramore
From past Sentinel articles, historical events of the 1960s and 1970s culture, social climate and FFA events have been intertwined. As in today’s society, past historical happenings, coupled with the ever technological changes, continue to influence culture, the social climate and, of course, FFA.
This article will feature the school year 1972-73. Events to trigger one’s mind back to that year include the killing of Israeli athletics at the Munich Olympic Games in September 1972 and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in January 1973 to legalize abortion in its landmark decision of Rowe v. Wade. And probably the most well-known event to affect Alabamians almost 37 years ago was the attempted assassination of Governor George Wallace in Laurel, Maryland, as he was campaigning for president in May 1972.
The Alabama FFA Reporter (known hereafter as the Reporter) was in its second year. As stated in previous Sentinelarticles, the forerunner to the Reporter was the Alabama Future Farmer magazine and The Alabama FFA News. As in almost every first issue for the current school year, highlights of the immediate past State FFA Convention were announced; and the September-October 1972 edition of the Reporter was no exception.
There were 1,200 FFA members who attended the 1972 state convention. Wesley Patterson of Cullman was named State Star Farmer and Eddie Woerner of Foley received the Alabama Future Farmer of the Year award. Hanceville’s quartet racked up its first place win in the re-initiated quartet competition.
The Bay Minette Chapter won the string band contest, Enterprise prevailed in land judging, Thomaston triumphed in livestock and Collinsville abounded in dairy. The J. P. Pennington team won the new agricultural mechanics contest, and Neil Outlaw of Hartford received the M.K. Heath (Animal Health) Award.
Future state officer Spencer Means of Eutaw won the prepared public speaking contest. Means placed second in the Tri-State (Alabama, Florida and Puerto Rico) Contest. The state’s five most outstanding chapters were designated as Crossville, Wetumpka, Section, Waterloo and Sparkman. Jerry Lee Davis of Vina was decreed state champion corn grower. Highland Home received the Governor’s Citation as the best entry in the Building Our American Communities Program. Fifteen FFA members received first place awards in the FFA proficiency program. And 514 local farmers were elevated to State Farmer status.
Elected as state officers for 1972-73, continued the September-October 1972 issue of the Reporter, were Steve Fowler, Wicksburg Chapter, president; Roger Page, Red Bay Chapter, vice president; Terry Johnson, Geraldine Chapter, secretary; Tim DeLoach, Weogufka Chapter, treasurer; Ronald Turner, Citronelle Chapter, reporter; and Clifton Homan, Gordo Chapter, sentinel.
A spotlight article in that issue was Randy Gillespie of Speake. Gillespie was named the state proficiency winner in poultry production. He shared a 40 percent interest in a family laying operation, which consisted of 320,000 layers (producing approximately 288,000 eggs per day) and 175,000 pullets.
The Illinois, Central and Gulf Railroad and the Standard Oil Company sponsored a leadership workshop for state FFA officers from Alabama and Mississippi in late June 1972 at Mobile. In July, Standard Oil Company conducted a three-day FFA visitation for Alabama and Florida FFA State Officers at Mobile as well.
Two Alabama FFA members, Greg Hawkins, Pell City, and Jimmy Griffiths, Foley, were selected to play in the National FFA Band at the 1972 National Convention at Kansas City. Also four state agribusiness teachers were nominated to receive their Honorary American Degree. They were Earl Gardner and B.P. Whitten, Centre; John Yates, Town Creek; and H.B. Thompson, Enterprise.
Mrs. Mary George Waite of Centre, chairperson of the Alabama FFA Foundation, was to receive her Honorary American Farmer Degree at the national convention. "Mrs. Waite," said the September-October 1972 Reporter, "personally moved Alabama from near the bottom in FFA contributors to second in the nation. Additionally, she initiated the program of organizing banks to provide premium money for district FFA contests."
In the same issue, T. L. Faulkner, director, Vocational-Technical-Higher Education, State Department of Education, announced three shifts in personnel which affected agribusiness education. B.P. Dilworth was elevated to branch director of Program Supervision for the Division of Vocational-Technical and Higher Education.
Because of Dilworth’s advancement, H.W. Green was named state supervisor of Agribusiness Education. Paul B. Holley, a 26-year veteran employee of agribusiness education, was the third personnel change announced by Faulkner. Holley was replacing Green.
The November-December 1972 Reporter was packed with highlights from the National Convention held during October of that year. Alabama had four first-places in proficiency competition. They were Randy Gillespie, Speake Chapter, poultry production; Jerry Whatley, Cullman Chapter, placement in process; John Robert, Gardendale Chapter, placement in agriculture production; and Dalton Eason, Jr., Fayette Chapter, forestry management.
The Crossville Chapter received a gold emblem in the chapter contest. The Citronelle Chapter received a silver emblem in the chapter safety contest while the Boaz Chapter received a gold emblem in the BOAC competition. There were 27 Alabama FFA members who were bestowed the degree of American Farmer. Of the 27, the West Point, Evergreen and Sparkman chapters had three degree recipients each.
Former State Supervisor and State FFA Advisor, B.P. Dilworth was given a Distinguished Service Award for his "illustrious promotion of FFA," according to the November-December 1972 issue.
Also in that same issue were the results of the FFA fair exhibit winners at the State Fair in Birmingham, the South Alabama State Fair in Montgomery and the National Peanut Festival in Dothan. (During this time at the State Fair and South Alabama State Fair there were five chapters with exhibits. There was one first place, two seconds and two thirds.) Speake was first place at the State Fair; Southside and Jacksonville were second places; and West Point and Lexington were third places. Goodwater was first place at the South Alabama State; Chelsea and Goshen were second places; and Clio was third. The National Peanut Festival winners were Cottonwood, first, and Clio, second.
The Alabama Sears FFA Bull Show was held at the South Alabama State Fair in Montgomery. Winning the show in1972 was the Guntersville Chapter with a Brahman bull. The Gaylesville Chapter won second with its Polled Hereford entry; the Clanton Chapter was third; followed by Aliceville, fourth; and Sidney Lanier, fifth. Other chapters participating were Kinston, Dozier, Linden, Cleveland and Priceville.
And the final event for this month’s article is the Hartford, Alabama, and Litchfield, Minnesota, story.
"A mutual interest in peanuts has brought two local FFA chapters and two rural communities, geographically separated by a span of 1,350 miles, and fused them in warmest friendship," stated the November-December 1972 Reporter.
An invitation was sent to an Alabama FFA’er to participate in the first International Peanut Butter and Dairy Festival in Meeker County, Minnesota. The invitation included an all-expense paid trip to Minnesota. One stipulation was the boy and his family had to be peanut farmers. Those making the trip were Neil Outlaw, Hartford FFA member, his parents, and his FFA advisor, Paul Dean, and Mrs. Dean. According to the article, the Alabamians were treated royally.
"So cordial was their reception in Litchfield, the Hartford people made immediate plans to reciprocate. Enlisting the whole Hartford community – town council, civic clubs, school personnel and everybody – the Outlaws and Deans played host to Brent Schultz, Litchfield FFA member, his parents and his FFA advisor, Bruce Cottington," the article stated.
While in Alabama, the Minnesota delegation visited Governor Wallace. They also toured a peanut butter manufacturing plant, took in Dothan’s National Peanut Festival and got first-hand exposure to peanut production.
The article concluded with the following comments by Cottington. "I believe in FFA. The FFA is superior to all organizations in rendering better rural development. When you get down to it, aside from inspiring leadership, FFA exists to practice brotherhood and honor rural opportunities and responsibilities."
Philip Paramore is an Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education.