Tummons, J. D., Simonsen, J. C., & Martin, M. J. (2017). Role of the agricultural industry and judging events in formation of the Future Farmers of America. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(1), 236-250. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2017.01236
Early agricultural education included youth judging activities, in which farm boys matched skills with students from neighboring schools. In 1925, students competed in a National Dairy Judging Contest in Indianapolis held specifically for vocational students. Based on the success of this contest, the Federal Board for Vocational Education requested the contest committee make arrangements for hosting a national livestock judging contest for vocational students the next year. Representatives from the American Royal Livestock Show agreed to provide a livestock judging contest and educational program specifically for vocational students. In 1926, students from 22 states converged in Kansas City, Missouri to compete in the first National Livestock Judging Contest. Cooperation between Kansas City agribusiness leaders, the Kansas City Star, and the U.S. Department of Education staff led to the development of a National Congress of Vocational Agriculture Students, consisting of agricultural youth showing and judging at the American Royal. The congress played a substantial role in the formation of the Future Farmers of America and shaped many traditions still practiced by the organization today. Authors explore the traditions of judging events and industry sponsorships in the context of today’s National FFA Organization.