GUSTINE - FFA has been part of David Wilson’s experiences at Gustine High since his arrival as a freshman four years ago.
During that time, the senior has been involved in a number of activities - primarily involving livestock.
“My grandmother had a little ranch, and every time I went up there I was interested in the livestock. She told me about 4-H and got me started in that,” Wilson explained.
Wilson made a point of learning from those around him as he got involved in livestock projects, first in 4-H and later in FFA. He said 4-H swine leader Robert Borba told him about FFA, and he decided to get involved.
For Wilson, livestock was a learning curve that started in 4-H and has continued through his FFA years.
“I didn’t really have any background. I just tried to learn from people around me and try my hardest at everything I did,” he explained. “It was a struggle at first, but I ended up really liking it.”
Wilson started showing swine projects, but added larger animals as a junior when he showed a replacement dairy heifer at the Spring Fair in Los Banos and a beef replacement heifer in addition to a hog at the Merced County Fair.
He plans to do the same this year.
“I had worked at a cattle ranch my sophomore and freshman years, so I felt prepared going into that, and our leader (Kelly) Sanches helped me a lot with it,” Wilson said of showing the larger animals.
Wilson said showing the cattle better suited his interests, even though they require more work than hogs.
“With the beef and dairy, if you don’t walk them every day it will show in the ring. You have to work with them more,” he explained. “I learned from livestock that you get out what you put into it.
Wilson is also developing his own beef herd, which just had its first calf born.
Wilson has also been involved in dairy judging and community service as an FFA member, and has attended state and national FFA conferences.
“(National conference) was an experience I will never forget,” he reflected. “It took me out of my comfort zone with meeting new people.”
Wilson, who is the son of Ana Bento, credits FFA with helping instill a work ethic which will serve him well in the future.
He also has found a new career interest through the organization.
“In my mind, I had wanted to do something with livestock, but after the connections I made in ag leadership I learned about a pest control advisor (PCA) job. I went on a ride-along on that job and I really enjoyed it,” Wilson said. “I think I will pursue that as a career.
After graduating Gustine High, Wilson said, he plans to major in ag business and minor in crop science at Modesto Junior College before completing his studies at Fresno State.