The Indiana Young Farmers Association is now 50 years old, and celebrated the event at its' state conference recently. This group is supported by the vocational agriculture specialists, and was started as a way for vo-ag graduates and their spouses and families to continue to learn and grow, both in knowledge and social skills, after high school.
The other young farmers group within Indiana is the Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmers. It operates on the county level as an arm of local county Farm Bureau Boards. There is also a state committee for their organization.
At the 50th year celebration of IYFA, Mike Whaley, outgoing president, presided. He and his wife, Robin, were the first husband and wife to both serve as IYFA presidents. They hail from Ottwell in southwestern Indiana. They already have six grandchildren.
So why are they still young farmers? Because they believe in the organization and what if stands for, Robin says. Upper age limits on membership in the organization were dropped recently, so that members who started young can remain in the organization.
However, the organization is still growing. A new chapter form Jackson County received its charter to begin functioning as an IYFA chapter at the state meeting.
Historically, IYFA peaked in the late '70s and early '80s when a large number of the members were five to 15-years out from high school graduation. Some conventions during that period were so large they were held in the Indiana Convention Center, and a meal function would draw more than 1,000 people. This year's state meeting drew approximately 300 people.IYFA is organized in chapters tied to a local school system. Typically, a local ag teacher and FFA advisor serves as advisor for the group, and may also belong to the group. Several teachers are still involved in supporting IYFA today.