Raising sheep leads to national recognition


By Savanna Graves

August 4, 2021

Though summer break for most students involves freedom from projects and homework, students involved in FFA don’t pause for long before diving back into their projects and attending the statewide convention. Even after they’ve been given a high school diploma, their hard work and accomplishments follow them, especially for those like Reese Wilson.

A Stephenville graduate, Wilson, was named a finalist for the American Star for FFA, an accomplishment only four others in the nation each year can claim. According to the official FFA website, this award, “represents the best of the best among thousands of American FFA Degree recipients.”

It’s a shocking experience to know that the determination and the culmination of all your efforts thus far has paid off and you’re finally reaping the benefits of what you’ve been working on for months now.

Reese Wilson, Finalist of the American Star for FFA

A project that began as curiosity regarding his own experience raising sheep led to projects that answered his own questions as he raised and showed animals. The amount of questions made narrowing down the project to a single focus and idea difficult for Wilson, who claimed the hardest part of the project was having a solid idea that can be thoroughly researched.

His experience with Agriscience in FFA sparked a passion for research, leading him to Texas Tech University where he is studying to get his bachelor’s degree and working in the Meat Sciences department with graduate students. He credits the position to his work and research for his projects.

Ryan Best, one of Wilson’s ag teachers at Stephenville High School, explained that working with Wilson on the projects was an extensive process, including interview prep and compiling his work into an easy-to-understand document.

“[Reese] was undertaking graduate level statistics work as a sophomore in high school,” Best explains. “He’s absolutely excelled in understanding in understanding the statistics…Seeing Reese grow from a pretty self-conscious freshman into a confident young man who’s willing to stand in front of people defend his finding, I think that that was exceptional.”

Best explains Wilson’s influence on the program as a natural leader has led other students to become interest in starting their own projects.

Wilson will travel to Indianapolis, Indiana in October for the National FFA Convention where he will be interviewed by a panel of judges to decide the winner in his category.

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