World Champion Calf Roper Tyson Durfey says his FFA background in Missouri helped him achieve his biggest dreams in the Super Bowl of Rodeo.
Q: When did you become interested in participating in rodeo?
A: I don’t even remember starting. I just grew up with it. I was the youngest of three boys on a ranch where we trained roping horses. We always had 30 or 40 horses in training.
Q: When did you begin to see it as a potential career?
A: I started competing for prize money at age 12 in break-away roping. Right away I kept a log of my expenses and income, and my first week I cleared $42. I realized that I could make some money at this.
At 15, I moved up to regular tie-down roping. By my junior year of high school, I cleared $27,000. That’s been the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event I’ve participated in since 2003.
Q: Where did you join FFA?
A: It was in high school in Savannah, Missouri. I remember participating in soil evaluation, equine judging and ag mechanics. What I remember most are the unbelievable FFA advisors along the way. They and FFA helped me learn how to keep records and how to run a business, which I had to do for my SAE.
Q: Have you ever had a serious injury in roping?
A: When you dismount the horse, you’re going about 35 mph, and you have to plant your left foot flat on the ground. One time in high school, I rolled my ankle and shattered the bones. It took seven months to recover. I’m 35 years old now, and I keep myself in good shape. I expect to keep doing this at a competitive level for a few more years.
Q: And after that?
A: My wife, country singer Shea Fisher, and I have a belt buckle business called Shea Michelle Buckles. We also have a line of boots for babies and toddlers. I do public speaking, and I like to coach other people. I hope I can inspire some young people – or anybody – to reach their dreams.
Q: What advice do you give young people?
A: Put in the work that others aren’t willing to do. Don’t listen to negative talk or anybody telling you that you can’t do something. Dream big and let your actions match your goals.
I talk about perseverance. I decided in high school that I wanted to become a world champion, and I went to the national finals nine times before I reached my goal in 2016. It’s like going to the Super Bowl eight times and losing every time, then winning on the ninth try. Persevere!