THE HISTORY OF FARMHOUSE FRATERNITY
1965-1974 Overcoming Conflict
It was the age of the flower child, Vietnam War protests, and the Race to the Moon. The decade spanning the late '60s and early '70s was one filled with growing tension between students and “the establishment,” students
questioning the war, and questioning who
they were and what they believed.
FarmHouse was not immune to the societal, political, and cultural debates surrounding it. To a lesser degree, the organization was facing similar issues of conflict and debate, albeit on a much different plane.
Whereas the youth of the day were experimenting with their newfound freedoms, FarmHouse chapters and alumni passionately debated possible changes to the cornerstone beliefs of our Fraternity. As the Fraternity grew internationally, issues had to be addressed including whether the Fraternity should allow women to be members, whether co-ed housing was the wave of the future and what the Fraternity's official position on alcohol would be.
Hot Issue Number One – Women in FarmHouse
Two of the major topics of conversation and debate in the early 1970s were whether women should be allowed to become members of FarmHouse and whether the organization should consider co-ed living
Much of the debate was sparked by a proposal by the Iowa State Chapter in 1970 to change the bylaws and constitution to allow women to become members. The proposal was defeated but brought up again at the 1972 Conclave.
The debate led the National Executive Board to form a committee to study the concept of co-ed housing further. Ultimately, the committee of undergraduate and alumni leaders concluded that such a program would not be beneficial and was largely opposed
The committee suggested instead that chapters further investigate the formation of sisters groups, chapter sweethearts, etc.
Hot Issue Number Two – Alcohol
Since its founding, FarmHouse has maintained a tradition of responsible behavior and alcohol-free living. The definition of alcohol-free has been a hot button over the years. For several decades leading up to the 1960s, alcohol-free living facilities were the norm for most men's fraternities. University officials maintained much greater control over students.
As with changes taking place in society at large, the late '60s and early '70s for FarmHouse were times when students questioned status quo and were not afraid to voice their opinions. While FarmHouse had long maintained a tradition of alcohol-free housing in the majority of chapters, no set policy was in place in regards to alcohol. After much debate, discussion and analysis of what local chapter alcohol practices were, the first official FarmHouse alcohol and drug policy was adopted in 1974, which prohibits alcohol and drugs from all FH chapter houses and property.
FarmHouse Men in Service
Dozens of FarmHouse men answered the call to service for the United States during this decade.
Among the FarmHouse brothers leading the charge were: Lt. General Earl Hedlund (NE '35), who had flown 170 fighter missions in World War II before becoming Director of the Defense Supply Agency for the US Armed Forces; and Dean Mead (WY '62), who served as a Green Beret for the US in the war.
The Space Race
Much of the world's attention during the first half of
this decade was focused on the race to the moon.
The United States and the former Soviet Union were
in a mad race to see who could land a man on the moon first.
The first FarmHouse man to become an astronaut was Jim Thar (MI '56), who was accepted into the Aerospace School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1968. Thar had previously completed more than 100 in-country combat missions in Vietnam and 30 out of country. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for service in Vietnam.
Moving to St. Joe
The FarmHouse national office moved to St. Joseph, Missouri in 1969, at the same time that Wick Haynes (NC '57) was named to be the second full-time national secretary-treasurer-editor (position later renamed executive director) of FarmHouse Fraternity. Haynes served in this capacity for the Fraternity until the end
Following an extensive national search for Haynes' successor, Bob Off (CO '64) was hired to serve as
the Fraternity and Foundation's executive director and editor of Pearls & Rubies. He had previously worked at South Dakota State University as assistant director of housing after a stint in the US Army.
After four years of work, the Alberta FarmHouse club chartered as a chapter in 1974, officially making FarmHouse an international organization. Despite a Canadian postal worker strike that prevented many of the alumni members from learning of the time, date, and location in time to attend the event, the chartering ceremony was nonetheless a huge event that signaled new opportunities for FarmHouse.
Besides Alberta, other chapters to charter during this decade included Georgia in 1965 (since inactive), South Dakota State in 1966, and Auburn in 1971.
The birth and rise of the Auburn Chapter was particularly impressive. The group was formed in 1969. One of the savvy moves was a notable column in The Auburn Plainsman student newspaper written by then-colony president Bobby Keen (AU '71), who explained why Auburn needed FarmHouse on campus. He pointed to how fraternities need to return to the principles and values they were founded on.
“In the beginning fraternities had no pledges, because fraternity men were not interested in creating a second-class membership of subservients,” Keen wrote. “They played sports when they felt like it because they wanted to participate athletically as gentlemen—not as competitors striving for another quantity of brass. They sang because they enjoyed each others' company as men and as individuals. They discussed the issues of the day and from these sessions developed some of the great minds of America.”
The chapter would charter in 1971. Less than a year later, the Auburn Chapter was named the outstanding fraternity on campus, Jerry Batts (AU '71) was elected student body president, and Bill Minor (AU '71) was elected ag student council president.
Leadership in National FFA
Throughout the 75-year history of FFA, FarmHouse men have helped provide exceptional leadership to the organization. A total of 48 FarmHouse brothers have served as national FFA officers to date (the FFA selects six national FFA officers per year). Ten FarmHouse men would serve as national FFA officers during the decade from 1965-1974, including four national FFA presidents – Howard Williams (NC '65); Greg Bamford (CO '67); Harry Birdwell (OK '69); and Dan Lehmann (IL '70).