It’s been 50 years since the National FFA Convention when women gained full membership in the organization. It was a momentous occasion since the path to acceptance was long and fought with courage and diligence. “The push for female membership wasn’t an effort led during a single business session of a single National FFA Convention,” writes Bev Flatt in “The Fight for Female Membership.” “Rather, it was a feat that required incredible energy and efforts that began more than years 30 earlier.” As it is in many other good endeavors, the back-and-forth that followed was tireless and, ultimately, worth it.
In the time since, women have become an integral part of the organization. We regularly see women achieve the most significant milestones in agricultural education and agriculture, and they continue to shape the future.
Consider this brief trajectory: Anita Decker from New York and Patricia Krowicki from New Jersey served as the first female delegates at the 1970 National FFA Convention, just one year after full membership. In 1976, Julie Smiley from Washington became the first woman to serve at the national level as the western region vice president. Since then, more than 80 women have been elected to the National FFA Officer Team. In 1982, Jan Eberly from California was elected to serve as the first female national FFA president. And, Karlene Lindow was the first female to be named the American Star Farmer in 2002. Her FFA jacket now hangs in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In 2018, Breanna Holbert was elected the first female African-American national FFA president.
You’ll notice that we use many pages in this edition of FFA New Horizons to celebrate women in FFA – from the pioneers to the members who carry the torch today. I hope you’ll engage with the stories you find here and join us as we commemorate the progress the National FFA Organization has made.
Have a great spring!
Editor, FFA New Horizons