I'll be the first to acknowledge I'm woefully challenged when it comes to knowledge of college fraternities, agricultural or otherwise.
They're all Greek to me.
In a recent column, thinking to do a good deed and give a bit of publicity to an agricultural fraternity, I made mention of Alpha Gamma Rho, which has chapters in all the Mid-South states.
Hardly had that issue hit the mailboxes than I began receiving e-mails pointing out that there is another popular ag fraternity, FarmHouse, with chapters at several universities in the Mid-South and a lot of alumni hereabouts.
FarmHouse, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, had its genesis in an agricultural “club” founded at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture in 1905.
“When school opened in September, only seven of the group returned,” one of the founding members wrote. “Those seven fellows were the best bunch that ever got together. During the whole year, they managed the house without one single disagreeable incident.”
From that humble beginning, the organization grew and in 1915, efforts began toward nationalization — which finally came to pass in 1921 with adoption of a constitution and bylaws. This led to further growth, with an interruption for the two World Wars (in WWII, chapter houses were used as dormitories for servicemen and women). In 1974, a FarmHouse chapter at the University of Alberta gave the fraternity international status.
The FarmHouse Foundation makes grants to foster leadership, people skills, and financial management training through its FarmHouse Leadership Academy, regional leadership conferences, and other programs. It also makes grants to chapters to purchase computer equipment and software for in-house computer labs, and offers scholarships and financial aid.
The current FarmHouse roster lists Mid-South chapters at Fayetteville, Ark.; Mississippi State, Miss.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and the founding city, Columbia, Mo.
And just to cover all bases (I fervently hope), I'm told there is yet another ag fraternity, Alpha Gamma Sigma, which was founded more than three-quarters of a century ago at Columbia, Mo.
In 1931, Alpha Gamma Sigma and another ag fraternity, Tau Gamma Phi at Columbus, Ohio, joined to form the national AGS organization. Today there are Alpha Gamma Sigma chapters in Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, New York, and Arkansas, with a membership of nearly 5,000.
So, whether it's Alpha Gamma Rho, FarmHouse, or Alpha Gamma Sigma, agriculture students at most land grant universities have a choice of fine fraternities that offer fellowship, leadership training, and a sharing of common interests.