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.
[Stiles]: 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.