Alumni Spotlight: Dave Stiles, ’78, ’83 MS

David Stiles is a two-time graduate of Ohio State in agricultural education, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1978 and returning for his master’s degree in 1983. His early career took him to a variety of positions, but he has been teaching agricultural education at Indian Valley High School since 1986 and he has been serving as an adjunct professor in agribusiness at Kent State University – Tuscarawas since 2016.


[ACEL]: Hi Dave! Tell us why you selected to major in agricultural education at Ohio State.
I decided when I was a sophomore in high school that I either wanted to become a “Vo-Ag” teacher or a 4-H Extension agent.  I had always enjoyed working with other kids and an “ag ed” degree would enable me to fulfill that.

At that time, attending Ohio State was the only option unless you went out of state, and I could start out at the Lima campus and live at home my first two years.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
Essentially solidified it.  During my freshman year, my father had the opportunity to expand the farming operation to include me into the operation full-time, but we decided that I would possibly be better off finishing college first. Wise choice (especially on my father’s foresight) as had we expanded at that time we most likely would have lost the entire farming operation during the agricultural recession in the 1980’s.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student outside of the classroom:
Agricultural Education Society my junior and senior years, OSU Lima Men’s Choral my freshman and sophomore years. I also worked at Kroger’s on 12th Avenue in Columbus during my junior and senior years – it was an eye-opening experience for an old “farm boy”.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? What was your favorite and why? 
It would be easier to list which classes I enjoyed the least: any math class (I only reached Math 116!) and livestock Anatomy which was supposed to be an elective for “non-vet” majors, but I think I was the only “non-vet” student in the class!

Favorite classes would have to have been Agricultural Education 330 (teaching methods with “LH”), Agricultural Economics 310, Welding with Dr. Gleem and Papriton, and most of the other agricultural education and agricultural economics classes that I took.

Share with us a faculty or staff member that had an impact on your time at Ohio State.
Number one would have to be Dr. John Starling.  Dr. Starling served as my state supervisor when I started teaching, in addition to teaching the record keeping/accounting (FBPA) course at Ohio State.  When I left teaching (the first time), Dr. Starling was persistent in seeing that I returned to teaching, as that “was what I should be doing” in his words. Others that have had a major influence in my teaching career include: Dr. Kirby Barrick, Dr. LH Newcomb, and, Dr. Joe Gleem.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
The “Auglaize County Home for Wayward Boys”, a large 9-bedroom house on 19th street that held numerous “social events” throughout the years.  Picture Animal House. Enough said.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
Teaching “production agriculture” at St. Marys Memorial High School.

Share with us other places you have worked throughout your career.
1978-1982: Vo-Ag teacher at St. Marys Memorial; 1982-83:  Agricultural Techniques of Tomorrow (Farm Management Consultant.) 1983-1984:  FBPA Instructor at Penta County Adult Education.  1984-1986; Commodities Broker, Office Manager for FGL Commodities, Fairmont Indiana; 1986 – present:  Agricultural Education Teacher at Indian Valley High School, Gnadenhutten.  2016-present:  Agribusiness Adjunct Professor at Kent State University-Tuscarawas.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors?
Honorary American FFA Degree, National FFA Association, 2016
Outstanding Educators Award, 2012, Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau Association
Ohio Outstanding Teacher in Agricultural Education, 2009, Ohio Association of Agricultural Educators
Honorary State FFA Degree, 2009, Ohio FFA Association
Region I (National Finalist) Outstanding Teacher in Community Service, 2006, Association for Career and Technical Education
Ohio Outstanding Teacher in Community Service, 2006, Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education
Outstanding Program in Agricultural Education, 2000, Ohio Association of Agricultural Educators
National Models of Innovation Finalist – Chapter Development, 2001, National FFA Organization
Ohio Pacesetter Award, 1998, 2000, 2006, Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education
Outstanding Educator Award, 1998, Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce
National Finalist:  Models of Innovation – Student Development, 1997, 1998, National FFA Organization
National Winner:  Models of Innovation – Student Development, 1997, National FFA Organization
Outstanding Program in Agricultural Education, District 8, 1994, Ohio Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association
AgriScience Teacher of the Year Finalist, 1992, Ohio Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association
Outstanding Young Teacher, 1982, Ohio Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Teacher chaperone for the National FFA International Experience Award Winners. I was able to visit and experience the agriculture of Ireland, summer 2017.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Find your passion and stick with it, but don’t be afraid to try other things. It is better to have tried something else and discover it wasn’t your best fit, than to go through life wondering “what if”.  For an agriscience education student starting out: When it is all said and done, the only thing that will matter to your students is not how much you knew, but that they knew you cared.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
Reinforced social skills, confidence, and a positive attitude.


Mr. David Stiles receives the Honorary American FFA Degree at the 2016 National FFA Convention from Sydney Snider, Eastern Region Vice President and Ohio State agricultural communication student.



My American FFA Degree: Joanna Lininger

By: Joanna Lininger
Agricultural Communication

As a member of the Mohawk FFA chapter near Sycamore, Ohio, I was involved in activities from soil judging to job interview contests.  My Supervised Agricultural Experience included 173 acres of crop production and starting my own Boer goat breeding herd.

Receiving my American Degree proves that all of the dedication and hard work that I gave to the program was worth it.  I have learned a great deal through FFA and my love of agriculture grew.  In fact, I most likely would not be a student at The Ohio State University studying agricultural communications without FFA.

Through FFA, I was introduced to the Columbus campus and all of the opportunities it had to offer.  I am thankful for my experiences in FFA and honored to receive my American Degree.


My American Degree: Katie Fath

By: Katie Fath
Agriscience Education

In 2011, I zipped up my FFA jacket for the first time as a greenhand, from there I had no idea where that blue corduroy jacket was going to take me. In that jacket I have achieved so much, made many friends, went many places, and made many memories. It ended up showing me what my true passion was and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I found a true passion for agriculture and I decided I wanted to become an agriculture teacher and change lives of all the greenhands that walk into my classroom.

As I zipped up my FFA jacket one last time to receive my American Degree I realized without my FFA advisor and this amazing organization that cares so much for the future of agriculture and forming teens to be true leaders, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. It shaped me to be the strong, courteous, independent women I am and lead me to setting goals and the will to achieve my goals like earning the high degree and FFA member can receive. Thank you to my family and friends who pushed me to be the best I can be.


My American Degree: Abby Motter

By: Abby Motter
Agriscience Education

You can’t help but be overwhelmed with powerful memories when you zip up that corduroy jacket for what will be the last time. You remember what it was like trying it on for the first time as a freshman, how much anticipation and excitement you had for the years ahead. How funny official dress seemed, how baggy the jacket was for your scrawny body, and how strange panty hose felt. You remember the trips, the contests, the friends, the funny moments, and the transformation from what you were, to what you are becoming. You hold on to the happy times and the exaggerated simplicity of life as a high schooler. You remember the first paragraph of the FFA creed, the rules for Division of the House, and to tuck in your tally-wacker. You know the impact you can have on a younger member, and the powerful influence your FFA Advisor continually has on you and countless other students.


Most importantly you recognize that when you take off that jacket for the final time you have a responsibility. The support of your family, friends, community, and school – anybody who ever once bought a case of citrus trio, bid up your feeder calf at the fair, attended your chapter banquet, or coached your soils team, gave you the gift of the FFA. There was only one catch – now it is your turn to give back to the organization that has given us all so much. Receiving the American FFA Degree is noteworthy, yes; it signifies over 5 years of dedication to premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. However, the American FFA Degree is an opportunity to sit on the other side of the desk, and serve the next generation of blue jackets.


This year I have the amazing opportunity to watch my sister begin her journey in the FFA. When I hung up the jacket a little over a week ago I held on to the memories, knowing my sister is already making her own. I am excited to serve this great organization as an alumna, and work towards fulfilling my dream of becoming an Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor. I know that my role as “Miss Motter” enables me to encourage more students to find their potential, chase after their dreams, and walk across that stage at National Convention one final time.

My American FFA Degree: Cody McClain

Cody McClain
Agriscience Education



The American FFA degree is the highest degree that an FFA member can receive, and I had the opportunity to receive this honorable degree on October 22, 2016.

Throughout my lifetime, I have always strived to reach my fullest potential regardless of the obstacles that I faced. Receiving my American FFA degree was a goal that I set for myself after I had attended my first National FFA convention my freshman year of high school. I was born and raised on a grain production farm, and I had the opportunity to have many first hand experiences with growing and harvest crops for production agriculture. These experiences guided my passion for agriculture and everlasting interest to be active in the industry.

When I joined the Upper Sandusky FFA, I soon realized that I would be able to practice my very own agriculture business through an supervise agriculture experience project, which lead me to seek out the other endeavors in FFA such as the National American degree. As I endured my final State FFA convention, I recognize the impact that the FFA organization made in my life, so I decide at that moment that I wanted to continue to pursue my passion for agriculture and make a difference in the lives of other agriculturist as a FFA advisor.

Since the application deadline for the OSU Columbus had closed, I decided to attend Ohio State ATI. This was the beginning of a journey that created remarkable memories and allowed me to continue my tradition of excellence in the field of agriculture.

Even thought I retired my FFA jacket and finish a chapter of my life, I have began another chapter that will be fulfilled with new and exciting experiences. The American FFA degree is a major milestone in my life that will benefit my future success as an educator. To this end, I am thrilled that I am studying to be an agricultural educator and hope to help today’s youth in agriculture be able to wear their FFA jacket proudly and receive their American FFA degree.

My American FFA Degree: Micah Mensing

Micah Mensing
Oak Harbor, Ohio
Agriscience Education

I can remember six years ago sitting in the Agriscience Education classroom at Oak Harbor High School. As I worked through my freshman year I had the opportunity to experience state FFA convention. This experience ignited my passion for the FFA as I learned of the multitude of opportunities I could take advantage of over the next four years.

During those inspirational days as I thought about my future in this incredible organization I dreamed of one day having the opportunity to be recognized on the state and national level. Fortunately enough throughout my FFA journey my Supervised Agriculture Experience developed, and opportunities to serve my community increased. These events combined with my passion for agriculture allowed me to receive my State FFA Degree. Receiving this degree inspired me to set a new goal, I was determined to one day walk across the stage at National FFA Convention and receive the highest degree one could earn.

Fast-forward two years to this weekend when I zipped up my blue jacket for the final time. Emotions of thankfulness, passion, and excitement all filled my heart as I prepared to complete my final goal as a member. As I consider my accomplishment I am forever thankful for the incredible people that have guided and impacted me along the way, the life lessons that I have learned, and the experiences that have built me to be the person that I am today while on the journey to receive the American FFA Degree.


My American FFA Degree: Kelse Brown

Kelse Brown
Edgerton, Ohio
Agriscience Education

Receiving my American FFA degree is the highest honor a member of the National FFA organization can receive. For me to receive this award is a great honor and has marked an end to my journey as a student/member of the FFA. Of an organization that has grown to over 600,000 members, I am a part of the 1% that has made the ultimate achievement of earning this degree. Over the past 6 years I have been able to meet some pretty amazing people and had the chance to engage in opportunities that never would have been possible without the FFA. I may have unzipped my jacket for the final time but the memories made, the lessons learned, and the passion and desire for success will stay close to me forever. I will always be a supporter of the National FFA Organization.


Kelse Brown, American FFA Degree recipient

ACEL Students earn American Degree

The Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership had 26 students receive their American Degree at the 2016 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana this past weekend.

The American FFA Degree is awarded to members who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and made significant accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs). Approximately 3,500 American FFA Degrees are handed out each year at the National FFA Convention. That number represents less than half of one percent of all FFA members, making it one of the organizations highest honors. In addition to their degree, each recipient receives a gold American FFA Degree key.

Those students from our Department who received this honor include:

Agricultural Communication
Mindi Brookhart, Waynesfield Goshen FFA
Joanna Lininger, Mohawk FFA
Michaela Kramer, Botkins FFA
Devin Roth, Cory Rawson FFA

Agriscience Education
Kelse Brown, Edgerton FFA
Blake Campbell, Waterford FFA
Kristen Eisenhauer, Shelby FFA
Katie Fath, Firelands FFA
Connor Frame, Meadowbrook FFA
Katrina Harper, Caldwell FFA
Thomas Hoover, Sentinel Vocational Center FFA
Veronica Johnson, Georgetown FFA
Wyatt Jones, Greenfield McClain FFA
Sarah Landis, Valley View FFA
Cody McClain, Upper Sandusky FFA
Micah Mensing, Oak Harbor FFA
Savannah Miller, Blanchester FFA
Abigale Motter, Crestview-Ashland FFA
Amanda Seger, Fort Loramie FFA
Ellyse Shafer, Clear Fork Valley FFA
Emily Starlin, Logan FFA
Morgan Stoner, Elgin FFA
Adam Wagner, Ridgemont FFA
Kayla Walls, Parkway FFA
Sam Wander, Clearfork Valley FFA

Community Leadership
Sarah Bookman, Hillsdale FFA

Blue Corduroy Buckeye

By Sydney Snider
Moscow, Ohio
Agricultural Communication


sydney snider

Sydney Snider is announced as Eastern Region Vice President


Just six years ago, I zipped up my blue corduroy jacket for the first time to attend National FFA Convention. I remember sitting in the nose bleed sections of the arena listening to the national officers speak about our organization and honor its members. My first trip to convention set me on a journey that transformed my life. That trip sparked a light within me to become more involved with FFA, grow as a leader, and become a stronger advocate for agriculture. Even though I didn’t realize it until much later, my first convention trip also led me to make the decision to run for national FFA office.

Running for office involved a lot of preparation, growth, and passion. However, my time spent preparing were some of the most influential and transformative months of my life and they led to a moment that will stay alive within my heart forever. As the final session began at the 88th National FFA Convention, I thought back to the first convention I attended and the passion that grew from that trip. These thoughts and memories allowed my worries and anxiety to leave and truly enjoy what could have been my last convention session in the blue jacket. As the election process began, I was calm and excited to find out who would serve our organization. The music began and nothing could prepare me for what was about to happen. Hearing “Ohio” called was one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever experienced. In an instant, everything seemed to slow down as I (not so gracefully) ran to the convention stage. Out of breath and in shock I could only hear the roar of the crowd and my heart beat loudly as my teammates and I gathered together for the first time.

This year, I am excited to serve an organization that has helped me discover countless values, skills, and passions. As a national FFA officer, I will spend the next year traveling around the country interacting with FFA members, advisors, sponsors, and supporters. I am proud to represent the Ohio FFA Association and The Ohio State University at the national level. As I am knee deep in training and preparation for the year, I am feeling especially grateful for the support and encouragement of those who have helped me along this journey. I look forward to bringing a piece of that, a piece of Ohio, everywhere I go this year.


This post was originally shared on the CFAES Student Blog.

My Last Step as a Member, and My First Step as Alum

By: Christine Balint
Agriscience Education


It was the moment I looked forward to in my entire high school career. To have my picture on the FFA chapter room wall. To become apart of the 0.5% of the FFA members to achieve such a high honor. I was proudly representing my chapter, my state, and my parents. Receiving my American FFA Degree was truly an amazing experience.

Even though you woke up at 5am to make sure you were dressed, registered and seated by 7:30am, every American Degree Recipient’s first day was the day they walked into their FFA classroom freshman year of high school. Over those short five years, I’ve changed into the person I am today. From the leadership nights, to county fairs, and National competitions to finishing the first Agriscience Education internship through the Ohio FFA, these experiences made me want to become an Agriscience Educator.

As an American Degree recipient, you are the celebrity for the day. There are teachers who stop foot traffic for you to walk, you get your picture taken at least 5 times, you can’t count how many hands you shook, and you get to be on the national stage with the national FFA president for a solid 3 seconds. You get to see your friends from FFA camp sophomore year, your friends from back home who are also in college, and all the new friends you’ve made since you graduated high school. I was grateful to have my sisters of Alpha Sigma Upsilon getting their American Degrees with me as well as past state officers, and members of ACEL and CFAES.

I had been waiting for this moment for throughout high school and into college and it was all over in only a few hours. It was the last time I would wear my jacket as a FFA member, and while the moment was sentimental, I know that it is the start of my involvement in Ag Education and as FFA alumni. This great organization has done so much for me, and now it is my turn to give back.