One requirement to earn even the entry degree in FFA is knowing the FFA Creed. Memorized by millions of FFA members, the creed is one of the most important parts of the FFA organization. For those who have never heard it, I want to highlight what it is and what it means to its members.
Each of the five paragraphs starts with the words “I believe.” This sets up just how much those who say its words believe in the creed. The creed talks about the past, present and future of agriculture, and establishes just how intertwined the FFA is with agriculture.
As the industry changed from just farming to everything agriculture entails, so did the creed. In 1965 and 1990, the creed was amended to use the term “agriculture” and “agriculturalist” instead of “farming” and “farmers.”
Each paragraph highlights a part of agriculture. These themes include the present and past, the lifestyle of agriculturalists, the leadership skill FFA instills, sound life practices and how agriculture will survive in the future.
If you have never read the FFA Creed, I would recommend it to see how accurately it portrays the FFA and the industry. But reading the creed does not give the full experience of what it is all about. To truly understand, listen to someone speak it. That’s when you see the true passion FFA members have for the organization.
The FFA Creed Speaking Leadership Development Event is one of the largest contests in FFA, with thousands of students competing each year from across the country. Members present the creed and answer several questions afterward about its meaning.
Presenting the creed is much more than just saying the words. It is the way they are spoken, and the passionate gestures used to interpret it. The questions are where you can really see the creed’s impact on a student.
My eighth grade year I competed in the contest and still remember both many of the questions and my answers. Questions like, “How can you help develop leadership?” make younger members start thinking early about their own leadership ability. Others like, “What are some of the joys and discomforts of agricultural life?” help members appreciate their own experiences and others agriculture offers.
To see the creed presented, I recommend watching a video of the national winners. Personally, I think Blayne Vandeveer does a great job, but I might be biased because he’s from Tri-County FFA, my home chapter. Vandeveer was the national FFA Creed speaking winner in 2017.
With the diversity within FFA, the creed truly unites every FFA member. Almost every member knows at least the first paragraph, if not the whole creed. Most ag teachers have it engraved into their minds after hearing it hundreds of times in their careers. Many can recite it perfectly years after retiring.
Even though it’s the FFA Creed, it represents all of agriculture. It is something that everyone can live by. That is why it is such an important part of the FFA organization.
Kilmer serves as the 2021-22 Indiana FFA northern region vice president. He hails from White County, Ind.