The Texas FFA Association announced today that its membership hit an unprecedented, all-time high mark. The agricultural based student organization announced its membership hit 100,000 in early November, a record high mark for any state FFA association in the organization’s 85-year history.
Lane Marbach, of West High School in Victoria, became the Texas FFA’s 100,000th member when he was submitted into the organization’s electronic roster system at 3:26 p.m. on Friday, November 1, 2013. Marbach, a freshman at Victoria West High School, is a first-year member and is raising a pig to show later this spring.
Current membership stands at 101,632, a 6.7% membership increase over last year’s final membership figure, and a 38,665 member increase since 2009 when the organization began its current growth spurt.
“We need students prepared to take on the challenge of finding new ways of feeding a growing population and wisely managing our natural resources,” says Texas FFA Executive Director Tom Maynard. “And we need young people ready to engage in the work of leading communities and companies as well as our state and nation.”
“FFA brings all that together,” Maynard says. “Agricultural education brings math, science, written communication and to some extent, history to life in a real-world application.”
The growth of the state’s organization once known as “The Future Farmers of America,” runs counter to the student demographic trends. When the organization was first organized in 1929, most Texas students lived in rural areas. Today, only 17 percent of the state’s student population is considered “rural.”
Officially, the Texas FFA’s name is still the Future Farmers of America, but the organization operates under a D.B.A as the Texas FFA Association, shying away from the farmer label, since the state’s agricultural curriculum represents many more disciplines than just traditional production agriculture. Texas agriculture students also study subject such as wildlife management, floral design and veterinary science.
“Many parents want their students to have a connection with agriculture,” Maynard says. “Urban and suburban Texans are embracing the FFA and the agricultural education experience.”
The numbers seem to support Maynard’s assertion. Harris County is home to Houston, the state’s largest city, is also home to more FFA chapters and members than any other Texas county.
FFA operates in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Texas leads the list of the top five largest FFA membership states, followed by California (74,039), Georgia (35,398), Missouri (25,073) and Oklahoma (24,896).
The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Members develop skills through real-world experiences that make classroom instruction come to life through hands-on application.
Since its founding as a national organization in 1928, the FFA has evolved from an organization focusing primarily on production agriculture, to a broader-based encompassing organization that addresses the needs and interests of students in urban and suburban schools in addition to the rural communities. FFA gives students the opportunity to apply practical classroom knowledge to real world experiences through local, state and national competitions. For more information about the Texas FFA Association visit MyTexasFFA.org or TexasFFA.org.