A single item on one FFA adviser’s “bucket list” may help rewrite the history of the FFA Creed, now celebrating its 86th anniversary, and the man behind it.
“The FFA Creed is a foundation by which FFA members live their lives,” says Travis Bradshaw, FFA adviser for Burlington FFA in Oklahoma. “It puts into words what FFA members believe and what they should strive to accomplish throughout their lifetimes. It reminds us why agriculture is the most important industry in our world, and gives us the motivation to know that we can make a difference in the future of agriculture.”
Bradshaw has long been interested in the origins of the FFA Creed and its author, Erwin Milton “E.M.” Tiffany. In 2014, a twist of fate presented an opportunity for him to indulge his curiosity. After a conference in Kansas, he decided to travel to Lyndon, Kan., which he had read was Tiffany’s birthplace.
Bradshaw meandered through the local cemetery and found Tiffany’s grave. Later, a local diner waitress suggested Bradshaw stop by the town’s historical society. It became apparent that because the town no longer had an active FFA chapter, the importance of Tiffany’s words had been tucked away in the town archives and slowly forgotten. Bradshaw pored through the historical society files and found a gold mine of information about Tiffany’s life.
As Bradshaw drove home to Oklahoma, he called his chapter reporter, Bayli Hyde, who suggested the FFA chapter create a display for the historical society’s museum about E.M. Tiffany and the impact of the FFA Creed. Bradshaw agreed and turned the project over to her and the chapter members to spearhead.
As Hyde began to formulate her plan for the display, Bradshaw’s own sleuthing continued. Tiffany’s obituary stated that he was born in Lyndon and moved to Madison, Wisc., where he and his wife had a son named Jackson. Bradshaw was curious as to whether any of Jackson Tiffany’s children would still be around to give him any more information. A quick Internet search yielded a promising phone number in Madison, and he spoke with Jackson Tiffany, E.M. Tiffany’s 88-year-old son.
Jackson chronicled the life of his father and his own personal memories and stories. He was only 3 years old when the FFA Creed was written, and always sensed how important his father’s work was to him. Through his stories and anecdotes, Jackson painted a picture of a passionate man.
Thanks to the diligent efforts of his FFA chapter members and a little bit of luck, Bradshaw was able to shed some light on the heart and soul of the FFA organization.
“I hope that this project gives FFA members and advisers a glimpse into the life and history of the man who is responsible for writing the FFA Creed,” Bradshaw says.