On January 1, 1955, the Division of Vocational, Technical and Adult Education of the Florida Department of Education officially established an administrative section for distributive and cooperative education, although that year only eight high school distributive education programs existed in the state.
Before 1955, some of those schools had already formed local distributive education clubs. As distributive education programs expanded, however, the pressure to form a state association with eventual ties to a national organization grew. This desire came to fruition on April 26, 1957, when a Florida Association of Distributive Education Clubs of America was chartered by National DECA. The first Florida chapter chartered was Edgewater High School in Orlando, where William Dannenburg was the advisor.
The first Florida state officers were elected at the 1958-59 session of the Diversified Cooperative Education Clubs state conference, for although the Florida Association received its charter in 1957, the first statewide conference was not held until the school year of 1960-61. That first high school state conference was held March 3-4, 1961, at the San Juan Hotel in Orlando. With 25 high school distributive education programs operating and in total of 532 members, the conference was well attended.
In May 1961, the first official Florida delegation attended the National Leadership Conference in Chicago. The Florida delegation included 15 student members from 7 chapters.
In 1965, the organization established a post-secondary division for the students enrolled in the junior college mid-management programs, the Florida Association of Managerial Education.
In the early 1970s, Evans High School in Orlando had the largest number of chapters, nine, in any school in the nation. Winter Park High School followed the next year with nine more chapters. During the middle 1970s, where all distributive education programs in Orange County were shifted to one school, Orlando’s Jones High School claimed 27 chapters.
The 1980s saw Florida’s DECA membership hit an all-time high with more than 7,000 students in 145 chapters in the High School Division alone. Membership also grew in the post-secondary division that was then called Delta Epsilon Chi.
In 1993, all vocational student organizations transferred from the State Department of Education to separate boards of directors. The Florida DECA Board of Directors formed a corporation and employed a director for the High School Division as well as for the Delta Epsilon Chi Division. This arrangement continues.
Today we have approximately 100 chapters in our chartered association and a healthy membership of over 8500 students.