FFA Sweetheart

Marrion Ore, Staff Writer

The National FFA Organization, which used to stand for Future Farmers of America, started in 1928 and only boys under 18 were permitted to join. Finally in 1965, young women were allowed to join FFA.  But, some may be surprised that women played a role in FFA way before they were ever allowed to join.

As early as 1939, FFA chapters around the nation would select certain girls (much like homecoming court) and vote for the Chapter Sweetheart by secret ballots. The winner of the contest often received honorary association with the FFA and was welcomed to special duties like riding in parades and helping entertain during National FFA Week.

In the spring of 1949, the Supply Service Catalog announced that FFA was were officially carrying a special jacket for FFA Sweethearts. They jackets cost was $6.50, but it was a meager price to  pay for such an honor considering women  could not be granted membership. The jackets were white corduroy, with a small FFA emblem and “Chapter Sweetheart” embroidered in corn gold underneath. For .30 cents more, the lucky girl could have her name stitched underneath.

The special white jacket continued to be in catalogs until 1992, when National FFA Delegates voted to discontinue the tradition. Many chapters, like Jacksonville, choose  to still hold a vote for Chapter Beau and Sweetheart in honor of the tradition. While we can no longer award the jacket, 2013’s Chapter Sweetheart, Morgan Lonergan, says that she loved holding the title and can’t wait to honor the next Sweetheart this coming spring.