The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will display five jackets belonging to notable FFA members in its forthcoming display in American Enterprise, a new exhibition which opens in July 2015 and focuses on the role that business and agriculture have played in American history.
The jackets, donated in a special ceremony Friday, belong to former FFA member and U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the first African American national FFA president and the first national president from an urban chapter, Corey Flournoy, family farmer Jesse Godbold, the first female to be named "Star Farmer," Karlene Lindow Krueger, and former FFA Chapter Sweetheart and current USDA National Agricultural Library information specialist, Mary Louise Reynnells.
In addition to the donated jackets, the donors are also providing their personal agricultural education stories and photos to the museum’s Agricultural and Innovation Heritage Archive, an online portal launched in 2013 in which Americans are asked to share their agricultural experiences.
Smithsonian curators led an extensive search for FFA jackets with great personal stories, culminating with the jacket selection announcement.
"We invited people to send a description of their FFA jacket and tell us about their life experiences and were enthused by how many offers poured in," Curator Peter Liebhold said during the selection process. "All of the stories were fascinating. I was struck by how these experiences changed lives."
According to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History blog, the American Enterprise exhibition – with which the jackets will be displayed – will also include hands-on learning experiences, known as "interactives."
One of the interactives in the exhibition is the "Farming Challenge." It is near this area that the FFA jackets will be displayed, the Museum says, one at a time so as to help conserve the sensitive textiles.
The Farming Challenge will be a recreation of a modern tractor cab, complete with steering wheel, guidance controls, and yield monitors, the Smithsonian says. Sitting in the driver's seat, visitors will face tough questions, and be asked to formulate decisions, "likening farming to the role of a CEO in a large firm where processing large amounts of information quickly and accurately is key."
U.S. President Jimmy Carter
The 39th President of the United States and former FFA member Jimmy Carter will be represented in the exhibit with his jacket from the Plains, Ga., chapter.
After his time in the FFA, Carter went on to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, eventually joining the Navy's new nuclear submarine program before returning to Plains to manage Carter Farms with his wife, Rosalynn.
Jimmy Carter (at left) joins Richard Johnson and Ernest Harris in a brooder house building project in 1939. Courtesy of the National FFA Organization and the Ruth Lilly Special Collections & Archives, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. (Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog)
First African American national FFA president and first national President from an urban chapter, Corey Flournoy became involved in FFA after starting at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.
After numerous FFA leadership positions in high school, Flournoy studied agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois and later became founding director of the Illinois Center for Urban Agricultural Education.
Corey Flournoy shocked with joy after being elected president of the FFA at the 67th National FFA Covention in Kansas City, Mo., in 1994. (Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog)
A native of Suwanee County, Fla., Jesse Godbold graduated with a degree in Agricultural Education from the University of Florida and later taught high school vocational agriculture before joining the Florida Cooperative Extension Service where he served as Clay County's extension director for 25 years.
Godbold has maintained the family farm in Wellborn, Fla., which has been under continuous family ownership for more than 100 years.
Future Farmer Achievement Award given to Jesse Godbold in 1958. (Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog)
Karlene Lindow Krueger
Karlene Lindow Krueger, the first female to be named national "Star Farmer" in 2002, was a member of the Marshfield High School FFA chapter and native of Chili, Wis.
Krueger now manages Krueger Farm with her husband where they raise purebred Duroc, Hampshire, and Spotted hogs. She also works for Dairyland Seed.
Karlene Lindow Krueger and her family. (Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog)
Mary Louise Reynnells
A native of San Bernardino, Calif., Mary Louise Reynnells attended Pacific High School and was the Chapter's honorary "sweetheart," chosen to wear a special white FFA jacket.
Reynnells graduated from California State Polytechnic University and is now a Technical Information Specialist at the USDA National Agricultural Library.
Mary Louise Reynnells (right) in her white FFA Sweetheart Jacket, 1977. (Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog)