It was 51 years ago that I was the creed speaker for my FFA chapter.
That was one of my earliest attempts in competitive public speaking.
I made it past the first level of competition and at the next level, whereever it was I placed, it was not first place.
I can still recall the first paragraph of the creed with no assistance. After that, I have to look up the rest of the creed.
In 1962, I recited the creed as a high school freshman.
Here in 2013, I look at the creed from the view of a 66-year-old semi-retired farmer whose images of farming are mostly seen the way you see things in the rear view mirror.
There is way more behind me than in front of me.
The first paragraph of the creed says, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.”
In 1962 we were not agriculturists; we were farmers. As FFA has been made more expansive in its scope, a broader term was needed, and we are now agriculturists.
For my purpose, I have a soft spot for the word farmer so I am sticking with it. Besides, that is how I memorized it.
When I recited the phrase, “past and present generations of farmers,” in 1962 as a 13-year-old, those words were about farmers whom I had never met and most of whom were long gone as far as I was concerned.
Today, I can put faces and names on those “past and present generations of farmers” starting with my dad and uncles, followed by my neighbors. They represent some of the best people I have ever known.
After that are the people we depended on – cattle buyers, elevator managers, veterinarians, implement dealers and many more. They may not know it, but they now are, in the world of FFA, agriculturists.
The creed speaking contest is for first-year FFA students who are known as Greenhands, and I can say that in 1962 I was one of the greenest greenhands.
A lot of things have changed since 1962 and that is an understatement as we have and do things we could not have imagined back then.
And in reading the rest of the FFA creed, there are concepts that remain as solid now as in all the years since the FFA creed was written in 1930 when farms were likely to have both horses and tractors.
The creed includes the spirit of independence and love of farm life with its highs and lows that a farmer of any age would say is one of the reasons they farm.
My blue corduroy FFA jacket from 1962 stills hangs in a closet. Does it still fit?
Well, not only did I wear it 51 years ago, it was also 100 pounds ago.
I bet I could win that creed speaking contest now – with a new jacket, of course.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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