Texas FFA News  
Stephenville FFA Member Honored as One of the Top Agriscience-Based SAEs in the Nation.    
Monday, November 1, 2021 | Author: Dené Dryden, National FFA News Room

Stephenville FFA member, Reese Wilson, was named a top-four finalist for the 2021 American Star in Agriscience.

Wilson got his start in agriscience when he was a freshman in high school, generating his research ideas from his experience with livestock and getting support from mentors along the way. Wilson, from Stephenville FFA, dove into his first agriscience project with a partner, studying ruminal pH levels in sheep.

“For sheep, ruminal pH level is very important in comparison to overall health and weight gain in ruminants,” he said. “We conducted our very first project over that and had a blast doing it. We got to measure ruminal pH levels over a 60-day period and compare them to weight gain in a large sample size.

“Through that research, Wilson and his project partner found that lower protein feeds resulted in lower stomach fluid pH. His ag teacher and a local veterinarian helped make that research possible.

“It really takes a village to accomplish everything that I’ve been able to do, and I couldn’t have done it without anybody that I’ve encountered along the way,” he said.

Wilson’s later projects included measuring rumen nitrate levels to see if that impacted weight gain and surveying livestock breeders for their opinions on reproductive technologies and if those opinions varied between different demographics.

“Overall, the whole process has been a phenomenal, in-depth learning experience from beginning to end,” he said.

Now, Wilson is a student at Texas Tech University, and he works as a research assistant in the university’s meat science department. Along the way, one big insight he had was the role of chemistry in animal science.

“The average person really doesn’t think that there’s as much chemistry that goes into feeding our animals and feeding the world as there really is, and it really took me back and made me think again,” he said. “Now that I’m in college, and I’m getting to take these upper-level classes, I’m seeing it more and more.”

Wilson wants to further his education to become a professor and continue to work on agricultural research.

About American Star Awards
Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with American Star Awards for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education.

The American Star Awards, including American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience, are presented to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of supervised agricultural experience (SAE). A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, by owning or operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business, or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.

Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.

The American Star in Agriscience is awarded to the FFA member who demonstrates the top agriscience-based SAE in the nation. 

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