The Founding of the Alpha Zeta Fraternity
It was three years between the first planning and the actual organization of the Fraternity. In June of 1897, Brother Burkett and Brother Cunningham took the following oath: "The Fraternity of Alpha Zeta begins its work. Its spirit will be: to give, not to receive; to serve, not ourselves only, but the agricultural body, the whole cause of higher education, and in every way possible all people engaged in the profession of agriculture. May the Fraternity live forever."
Ten other men were included in the plans and ideas. These twelve men became the charter members of the first, and therefore the oldest, agricultural fraternity in America. In Brother Burkett's own words, "Alpha Zeta was to be a professional fraternity, to foster leadership in the college of agriculture, to promote scholarship, to choose personable young men [and women] of high character and integrity and unite them into an elite body with a fraternity bond encircling them. It was not a body to show favor to, but to serve; it was not a body to give honor to anyone, but one where its members could be of help to others. In other words, it was not intended as an honorary fraternity but a fraternity to help all in its reach in the cause of agriculture." Burkett and Cunningham were not only dedicated, devoted and determined men, proud of their places in agriculture, they were also men of vision who took an active role in the fraternity's development.
The purpose of the Fraternity is to promote agriculture in its broad concept while encouraging and developing its actual and potential leadership. It is felt that recognition of these ideals would serve to inspire greater achievement by agricultural students and would also serve to motivate members to greater service in the advancement of agriculture after college work had been completed. Fellowship, service, and a spirit of love and fraternity are involved, thus members down through the years have found recognition and satisfaction in becoming part of The Fraternity of Alpha Zeta.
The National Alpha Zeta Foundation of America
The National Alpha Zeta Foundation of America, Inc. (NAZF) was founded in 1960 in Washington, D.C. by the Fraternity in conjunction with the Washington D.C. Alumni Association as an instrument to more completely accomplish its purpose and objectives. Its primary purpose was to receive and administer funds for scientific, educational and charitable purposes which best advance agriculture for the public good.
Alpha Zeta Foundation
A second foundation, the Alpha Zeta Foundation, Inc. (AZFI), was established on April 4, 1984, in Indiana. Its purpose was to provide support for leadership development programs, including the LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) conferences, in addition to Alpha Zeta's national scholarship program.