The National FFA Organization announced today that W. Dwight Armstrong, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the National FFA Organization and the National FFA Foundation, will retire effective June 30, 2016. Armstrong shared his plans with the National FFA Board of Directors and the National FFA Foundation Board of Trustees, saying the t
ime was right to transition the leadership of FFA and for him to spend quality time with his family, friends, volunteer opportunities and personal pursuits.
Armstrong joined the National FFA Organization in 2009 as its chief operating officer and was later named chief executive officer. In 2014, he was also named chief executive officer for the National FFA Foundation and currently serves both organizations in a joint appointment.
National FFA Advisor and Chair of the National FFA Board of Directors Dr. Steve A. Brown voiced appreciation for Armstrong’s service and commended him for his contributions to the organization. “Dr. Armstrong has provided outstanding executive leadership for FFA at a critical time in our development,” said Brown. “In addition to being a close advisor and confidante, Dwight has been a steady, driving force in helping formulate our strategic direction and achieving program goals for FFA. Leading by example, he exemplifies the best of FFA by ‘Living to Serve.’ On behalf of the board and my colleagues in agricultural education, we wish him the very best for a satisfying and productive retirement.”
National FFA Foundation Board of Trustees Chair Elin Miller said, “Dwight’s contributions to the foundation have been transformative at a critical time for FFA. His emphasis on building the individual giving and estate planning segments of our donor base is the perfect complement to the strong corporate sponsorship that makes so many FFA opportunities available to students. Dwight’s leadership and personal commitment to FFA and agricultural education will be deeply missed by all of us in industry and philanthropy.”
In his announcement, Armstrong praised the National FFA staff and thanked FFA board members “for their support and confidence in the strategic and cultural foundation we have restored, adapted and developed over the past six-plus years.” He added, “The focus and energy our staff put into building culture, strategy, people and finances have allowed us to make the advances that put FFA in a positive position for future growth and service to our stakeholders.” Armstrong added, “As fulfilling as my career in agriculture has been, nothing compares to the satisfaction of seeing young people discover their talents and achieve success. FFA is exactly what we need to develop leaders, build healthy communities and strengthen American agriculture. I look forward to being an active and vocal supporter of FFA for years to come.”
During his seven-year tenure with the organization, Armstrong has overseen an era of dramatic growth and success. Under his leadership, the organization achieved an all-time record membership this year with 629,327 student members in grades seven through 12 in 7,757 local FFA chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Attendance at the National FFA Convention & Expo grew significantly from 53,473 in 2009 to 65,173 in 2015, making it the nation’s largest annual student gathering. During Armstrong’s tenure, financial stability was strengthened for both the National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization. Under the banner of “We Are FFA,” Armstrong solidified close collaboration and complementary strategic direction for both FFA organizations. The National FFA Foundation staff achieved record results for the annual fundraising campaigns, while the area of individual giving was developed into a productive segment of fundraising for FFA. Armstrong provided the vision and executive guidance for development of the web-based resources of the FFA Agricultural Career Network which in turn paved the way for FFA’s “My Journey” and a tightened connection between secondary instruction in agriculture and industry’s need for talent and human resources. Armstrong was a champion of deepening FFA engagement in fighting food insecurity through its “Feeding Our World—Starting At Home” platform that enlisted FFA members in aggressive hunger-fighting efforts in local communities and overseas.
Armstrong is a native of Kentucky where he grew up on a small general farm. An active FFA member in high school, he earned a B.S. degree in agriculture from Murray State University in 1971 and Master’s (1973) and Ph.D. (1975) degrees from Purdue University in animal science. After serving on the faculty at North Carolina State University in the Animal Sciences Department 1975-1982, Armstrong built a career in the swine nutrition area beginning at Akey, Inc., in Lewisburg, Ohio, where he served as director of nutrition, director of sales and, finally, president. In 2000, the company was sold to Provimi, located in the Netherlands. There, Armstrong served as CEO of North American Nutrition Companies, director of the Americas and global group vice president. In 2008, he retired from Provimi to start his own consulting business in the animal nutrition and agribusiness areas. It was during his tenure at Provimi when Armstrong served as chair of the National FFA Foundation Sponsors’ Board and led the drive to a record-setting annual fundraising campaign.
Armstrong will continue to serve as chief executive officer until he officially retires on June 30, 2016. He anticipates working closely with the National FFA Board of Directors and the National FFA Foundation Board of Trustees during the selection process for his replacement and on the transition plan for a new CEO.
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 629,367 student members who belong to one of 7,757 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.