By Maggie Edwards
For Alabama’s Wyatt Allen, FFA is more than just a blue corduroy jacket. It’s ropes, reins, buckles, saddles — and a national equine title the 20-year-old earned during the 95th National FFA Convention in Indiana during October.
Allen is the first Benjamin Russell High School FFA member to make it on the national stage.
“It was nerve-wracking standing on that stage in front of 70,000 people,” Allen said. “When they called my name, I was a little in shock I had just won. I truly couldn’t believe it.”
Hard work honed on his family’s Tallapoosa County farm pushed Allen to focus on equine for his FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE). Winning the national Equine Science Entrepreneurship Proficiency Award validated his work owning a business that provides experiences in horse production, breeding, marketing, showing and other aspects of the equine industry. This SAE program can also include rodeoing, which is where Allen’s passion lies.
“I started my SAE in 9th grade and was already part owner of 5A Ranch in Dadeville,” Allen said. “On the ranch, I raise horses to participate in team roping around the country. I currently manage 14 head of horses. I purchase them at an early age so I can train and ride them the way I need them to operate.”
Allen spends five hours each day riding and training horses, providing them quality health care and maintaining a specialized diet. He also trains horses for clients.
Allen is also a three-time Alabama FFA state champion, scoring titles in the Diversified Livestock Proficiency, Equine Science Proficiency and the Agriculture Construction Career Development Event. Allen was on a 2nd place state team in Livestock Judging.
“I am blessed to be a National FFA champion,” Allen said. “We hope this inspires more members from Alabama to chase their dreams.”
Benjamin Russell FFA adviser and agriscience educator Josh Williams said Allen’s win opens the gate to national success for more students in Alabama.
“To see Benjamin Russell FFA from Alabama in the spotlight was very special to us and all of the state,” Williams said. “That someone from Tallapoosa County can go all the way to the big stage shows students their end goal is very possible.”
Allen credits success to Williams; his father, Ed; and his twin brother and roping partner, Colton.
Since graduating from Benjamin Russell last year, Allen began studies at East Mississippi Community College, where his equine enthusiasm lives on as a member of the rodeo team.
“The National FFA Organization and the Alabama FFA Association have very special places in my life,” Allen said. “FFA gave me the opportunity to showcase my passions and hard work and also opened the door to many opportunities I would have never had.”