During the 2011/2012 school year, 16,939 students joined FFA and raised the organization’s total membership to 557,318 in grades seven through 12 in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

“Interest in agricultural education continues to grow due to the hard work, dedication and commitment agriculture teachers and state FFA leaders have toward developing our members for the future,” said National FFA Organization CEO Dwight Armstrong. “Our members are developing skills through educational and real-world experiences that will ideally position them to pursue one of more than 300 careers in agriculture.”

Demographically, Texas added more members than any other state last year, growing to 86,482 students. Trailing Texas was Georgia, Colorado, Delaware and Arizona.

Texas also leads the list of the top five largest FFA membership states, followed by California (70,683), Georgia (32,244), Missouri (25,748) and Oklahoma (24,364). Nine of the 10 largest FFA chapters are in California high schools in Fresno, Sacramento, Hanford, Woodland, Atwater, Tulare, Madera, Romoland and Clovis.

FFA chapters were in 18 of the 20 largest U.S. cities last year, including New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia.

“Through my travels this year, I have been quite impressed by the passion that agriculture teachers exude toward their students,” said National FFA President Ryan Best. “They’re working hard every hour in the classroom to fully develop FFA members’ potential for future personal and career success.”