|The FFA Sentinel|
|The FFA Sentinel|
Do you ever wonder how the government obtains its various statistical data? Maybe not, but I do. Nonetheless, most of you can probably recall the vast media coverage in October 2006 when the United States population reached its 300th million citizen. In 1972, the U.S. population was more than 209 million persons, which is approximately a 30 percent increase during this 34-year period.
But to answer the opening question, the following formula or derivation is used to determine the U.S. population: the most recent enumeration of resident population (example: 2000 census), plus births to U.S. resident women, minus deaths to U.S. residents, plus net international migration, plus movement of U.S. Armed Forces and civilization citizens.
Anyway, the November 2008 Sentinel article featured FFA highlights from the 1970-71 school year. As stated in that article, for about 40 years the official title of the Alabama FFA Association newsletter was The Alabama Future Farmer magazine, which was published every other month. Sometime after 1966 the name was changed to The Alabama FFA News and it was published on a monthly basis. During the 1971-72 school year and from available printed material, the name was changed to The Alabama FFA Reporter (known hereafter as Reporter) and was printed like the original The Alabama Future Farmer magazine on an alternating monthly basis. Today, Reporter is printed quarterly, four times per year.
September 1971’s issue of the Reporter stated the immediate past state president, Bill Cofield of the Woodland Chapter, not only was the state prepared public speaking winner but was also the Tri-State (Alabama, Georgia and Florida) public speaking winner. This was the second year in a row an Alabama FFA member won the Tri-State Contest. Cofield would advance to national competition.
In the same issue, the State Convention winning results were also published. The Enterprise Chapter won the string band competition and the dairy judging contest. West Point FFA won the land judging contest, J.U. Blacksher (Uriah) won the livestock judging contest and the champion corn grower was Kent Bouldin of the Crossville Chapter.
Tommy Price, Fayette County Chapter, was named the State Star Farmer. Price was one of 497 FFA members to receive his State Farmer Degree. Price specialized in the production of row crops – mainly cotton and soybeans. Patsy Davenport of the Maplesville FFA Chapter was the first girl in Alabama ever to receive her State Farmer Degree since the founding of the state association in 1929. (The November Sentinel article reported girls were admitted into the FFA in 1969.)
The new community action program called BOAC (Building Our American Communities) Awards, whose main objective was to make rural communities better places in which to live and work, were presented. BOAC was divided into three categories of recognition: gold, silver and bronze, with gold being the highest, silver and bronze awards following respectfully. Sixteen chapters qualified for the award with the Section Chapter (Jackson County) being named the top gold winner.
Elected to lead the State Association for the next year were Carl Shewbart, president, Speake Chapter; Johnnie Wood, vice president, Wetumpka Chapter; John Patterson, secretary, J.B. Pennington Chapter; Joel Ellis, reporter, Enterprise Chapter; Randall Smith, treasurer, Crossville Chapter; and Ernest Gabel, sentinel, Fairhope Chapter.
October’s 1971 Reporter announced trumpet player Michael Smith, Samson Chapter, would be a member of the National FFA Band at the National Convention later that month. Also, four vocational agriculture instructors, as they were known then, were to receive their Honorary American Farmer Degree at the National Convention. The Honorary American Farmer Degree, now called the Honorary American Degree, is the highest honor the organization can bestow upon non-members.
The Alabama teachers who received the award were M.E. Ekstrom, Curry High School; J.C. Horton, Haleyville High School; M.D. Thornton, Montevallo High School and W.D. Strickland, West Point High School.
Sammy Peebles a member of the East Brewton FFA Chapter was elected a national officer as vice president of the Southern Region at the 1971 National FFA Convention said the November 1971 Reporter. Peebles served as the 1969-70 State FFA President. He is now living in Colorado where he practices law.
Other national winners from Alabama were Bill Cofield, whose speech was entitled "A Miracle In Our Time," won the national prepared public speaking contest; John Crum Sessions, Evergreen FFA, national winner of the Placement in Processing Award; Van Smith, Billingsley FFA, second-place national award for Forest Management; and Robert Gossett, Pell City FFA, second-place national winner of the Agricultural Electrification Award. Twenty-five Alabama FFA members received their American Farmer Degree.
(The purpose of the Forest Management Award was to recognize members who adopted and used forestry practices conserving and increasing the productivity and economic value of a forest. The Agricultural Electrification Award’s purpose was to recognize members who had a knowledge of basic electricity used in agriculture and the home, and had gained preliminary experience needed for an electrical career. The purpose of the Placement in Processing Award was to recognize members who developed occupational competencies needed by individuals who planned to enter the field of agricultural processing.)
The January 1972 Reporter publication highlighted new state staff member Cecil Gant. A Jackson County native, Gant taught at Section for nine and a half years. While at Section he had 92 State Degree recipients, two State Star Farmers (1968 and 1970), one Alabama Future Farmer of the Year (1969), three National Proficiency Winners and numerous other FFA successes. The Section FFA Chapter as previously mentioned was the state’s first top winner in the BOAC program. Gant was selected for the position of Public Information Specialist and would work out of the Auburn Agribusiness Field Office.
Also in the January Reporter was an article about the Alabama FFA Association assisting the Lonicera Garden Club of Montgomery in co-sponsoring a beautification project at Garrett Coliseum in connection with the Keep Montgomery Beautiful program. The two organizations were responsible for the planting of 50 cherry trees on the Coliseum grounds during December 1970. The State FFA purchased the trees and the garden club supervised the arranging and planting of the trees. FFA members from Montgomery and surrounding counties participated in the project.
The remaining issue of the 1971-72 Reporter appears to be a spring quarter edition. President Carl Shewbart put out the call for members to attend the 43rd State Convention. Shewbart said the theme for the convention was "Youth with a Purpose."
Six young men were named contenders from their respective districts as candidates of the 1972 Star Farmer. They were Neil Outlaw, Hartford FFA, Southeast District Star Farmer; Billy Williams, Centre FFA, Northeast District Star Farmer; W.M. (Wesley) Patterson, III, Cullman FFA, West Central District Star Farmer; Roy O’Neal Young, Beulah FFA, East Central District Star Farmer; Jimmy McNeil, Evergreen FFA, Southwest District Star Farmer; and Phillip Hammock, Red Bay FFA, North District Star Farmer.
Foley youth Edward (Eddie) E. Woerner was named Alabama’s Future Farmer of the year for 1971-72. Woerner had a 40 percent interest in a father-son partnership Reporter said. The article stated Woerner and his father pursued a balanced system of agriculture where hogs and beef cattle complemented a large-scale soybean, wheat, corn and sweet potato operation. The production enterprises included 225 head of beef cattle, 300 head of swine, 450 acres of wheat, 705 acres of soybeans, 100 acres of corn and 20 acres of sweet potatoes. Woerner’s agribusiness teacher was Troy Newton, former agriscience state staff member. Woerner, the son of Edward J. and Lillie Woerner, are today known for the corporation, Edward J. Woerner & Sons, Inc., as a producer of turfgrass.
Shelby County Agribusiness Education was spotlighted in the Reporter’s last issue for 1971-72. As a result of a survey of Shelby County Agribusiness teachers, information obtained said there was a need for semi-skilled, skilled, semi-professional and professional labor. Shelby County Agribusiness students had the opportunity to receive training in horticulture, welding, small engines, masonry and wood working. The Shelby County teachers were doing their part in preparing a workforce stated the Reporter.
And finally, the top ten FFA chapters as related to FFA membership were reported. Centreville led the state with 209 members. Coming in a close second was Wetumpka with 207, followed by Prattville in third with 204 members while the fourth chapter, Jacksonville, had 188. Rounding out the top five was Leroy with 172 members.
The sixth place chapter was Leighton with 167 members. Hokes Bluff had 166 and was ranked seventh. Northport of Tuscaloosa was eighth with 162 members and Fairhope was ninth with 160 members. There was a tie for tenth place between Centre and Dadeville. Each chapter had 156 members. These 11 chapters collectively had almost 2,000 members or 7.5 percent of the total state membership. Alabama, which ranked second nationally behind Texas, ended the 1971-72 school year with 25,762 members.