FFA gives North Sanpete High teacher Blue and Gold Award
Kevin Allen lauded for ‘noteworthy contributions to agriculture organization
MT. PLEASANT—North Sanpete High School agriculture teacher and Future Farmers of American (FFA) advisor, Kevin Allen says he was blown away when he found out he was going to receive the FFA’s prestigious Blue and Gold award last Friday, March 10 at the state convention.
One of seven recipients of the award at the state FFA convention, Allen was probably the most surprised of them all because the email informing him he had been chosen to receive the award and to invite him to accept it at the ceremony had inadvertently been caught by his school’s email filter.
“It was shocking,” Allen said. “I’m a pretty private person, but I’m very honored to think that my fellow ag teachers think of me with the high standards they do.”
According to the FFA, their Blue and Gold award is reserved for individuals who have served the Utah FFA Association and have made noteworthy contributions to the organization.
An ag teacher for 21 years, Allen has been deeply involved in agriculture education organizations the entire time.
He has been a member of the Association for Career & Technical Education, Utah Association for Career & Technical Education (currently serving as a reporter for the organization), the National Association of Agricultural Editors and the Utah Association of Agricultural Editors throughout his career. He is currently serving his third term on the state FFA board.
He is also the representative for FFA’s Area 7 which covers Delta, Gunnison, Richfield, South Sevier, North Sevier, Juab, Mt. Pleasant and Manti. He has been the area chairman twice and has coached several CTE event teams including a first place 2003-04 team which competed nationally in Oklahoma.
Allen and his wife Pam, who hails from upstate New York and was set up with him by her College roommate, are the parents of five children—four sons and a daughter ages 22 to 37—and grandparents of five.
Allen came to education a little later on. Although he was admitted to Utah State University in 1979, he chose instead to spend 13 years farming in his native Idaho before actually attending USU.
Although he loved farming, he didn’t see a future in it, Allen said of the change in direction. While he was trying to figure out what to do with his life, a meeting with agriculture counselor Weldon Slight, who told him he should pursue a career in teaching, changed everything.
“You have a way to connect with the students,” Slight told Allen.
“I kind of laughed and said, ‘I’m so shy there’s no way I can be a teacher,’ I told him.”
Somehow Allen overcame his reserve and shortly after graduating from USU with a bachelor’s in agriculture education (with endorsements in Biology and welding) accepted a position as NSHS’s agriculture teacher.
He’s been there ever since, later returning to school to pursue a master’s degree in secondary education.
“I thought I’d try it for a little while and see,” he said of teaching. “Turned out I love it.”
Although reluctant to admit it, Allen said he has had a lot of parents thank him over the years for connecting with his students.
“Of course, there were others who contacted me and told me I didn’t do a dang thing,” he said wryly.
Despite those rare parents, Allen said he has taught a lot of students who have been very successful in their careers.
In that regard, Allen is a big fan of FFA.
“It’s the best way to get these kids involved in leadership,” he said.
Allen knows that most of his students won’t go on to pursue a career directly in agricultural production, “although if you eat, you’re involved in agriculture,” he said.
Allen said FFA gives them a hands-on opportunity to apply the skills they’re learning and to develop leadership skills that will serve them well, no matter what they do.
“I think they’re the best kids we have,” he said of the FFA members. “They’re some of our top students. There’s a lot of very successful students that came to FFA over the years.”
And Allen should know. This year alone, he estimates he has about 70 welding students with 80 more in his natural resources, biology, plant and soil sciences classes, and 46 FFA members.
“Kevin has a big class load—he always has—and works very hard,” NSHS Principal Nan Ault said.
Ault said that Allen is a great teacher who works well with his students.
“He is a very committed adviser to the FFA program. He is a well-deserving candidate for this award. I’m very proud of the work he does,” she said.
Allen said he is a quiet man.
“I don’t say much, but I stand for what I believe,” he said.
One of the things Allen believes is that it’s his job to help his students succeed. Along the way, it’s important to him to fulfill another goal of his.
“It’s important that I make my students smile at least once a day,” he said. “I’m kind of a crazy guy in the classroom, but it’s worth it when I see them smile or see that light come on in their eyes.”
At the state convention, NSHS’s FFA chapter received an award for increasing its membership by more than 10 percent over last year’s as well as a superior chapter award.