For this edition of “Decyphering Ag-Cronyms” I’d like to go back to the basics. Most of my readers will know the gist of what I’m writing about, but I figure it never hurts to refresh on the foundations of a strong knowledge. So, today I’ll talk about why FFA and 4-H are called what they’re called.
I’ll start with FFA.
Formerly, FFA stood for “Future Farmers of America.” Now, it stands for…FFA. Why? Well, the national organization realize how limiting the term “farmers” can be in regards to the wide world of agriculture. There are ranchers, veterinarians, nutritionists, aquaculturists, conservationists, scientists, loggers, butchers, meat inspectors, quality control managers, and a whole array of other “non-farmer” agriculturalists that weren’t being encompassed in the “Future Farmers of America” title. So, FFA dumped the full title and just went with “FFA.”
(I personally think they should take on the title “Federation of Future Agriculturalists” but that’s just my crazy idea.)
So, that’s the story of how the acronym “FFA” stands for nothing…although, the organization itself stands for everything that is good and right in youth these days.
Onto 4-H. (Which also goes by 4H…notice the lack of dash. Either-or is really acceptable.)
The origins of 4-H’s title can be traced back to the official motto of 4-H. “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.” The idea behind that motto is to encourage children (from age 8-18) to use what they have to become better members of society. Community service, self-improvement projects, and career development play a huge role in 4-H, which explains the motto. Explaining the motto, then, explains the ag-cronym which the club goes by.
So, there you have it. 4-H and FFA are two youth organizations I was very involved in during high school. I have the fondest memories of both, and am fortunate to have been a part of them. I attribute a great deal of who I am to my experiences in both organizations. Even if their names are a bit mysterious to the casual on-looker, there’s an interesting story behind each.