PEMBERVILLE - For the last 35 years, David Little has dedicated himself to the agriculture education and FFA chapter at Eastwood Schools. At the end of this school year he will retire as teacher and adviser for the program.
|David Little, outgoing FFA advisor for Eastwood, is seen near an engraved stone honoring his 35 years of service to the organization on March 18, 2013. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Since 1978 he has served with only minor movements of his classroom and shop at the high school.
"Everything has been pretty much in this area of the building," Little said of his career which began on July 1, 1978, immediately after his graduation from Ohio State University.
The Babyland exhibit at the Wood County Fair was the innovation of Little and it remains one of his proudest accomplishments. He and the Eastwood FFA students operate and care for the animals each year at the fair. The subsequent sale benefits the chapter.
Both Little and Bernie Scott, retired agriculture education teacher and FFA adviser from Otsego High School, were also instrumental in connecting with Joe Hirzel in the formation of the Agriculture Incubator Foundation on Ohio 582.
So Little's reach extends far outside the classroom.
In the announcement of his retirement at the chapter's recent banquet, FFA chapter president Diana Bushman read, "Mr. Little has been an integral teacher and role model to the Eastwood FFA chapter, its past and present members, the school district, and the surrounding community."
Bushman read to the teacher: "There is no doubt your legacy will live on and will be felt for many generations to come."
As a retirement gift, he was presented with an engraved granite boulder. (See a related story on page 14.)
Among his many students were members of the Frobose family including both Ben and Jake Frobose. Both men appreciated what Little provided for them, as students as well as later in life.
Though Ben Frobose remembers having "a lot of fun in his class," he also has a great respect.
"We just think so highly of him. He is such an even-keeled guy. I can't think of one time throughout high school or beyond when he would get riled up about too much," Ben Frobose said.
He recalls how Little pushed him in the FFA program to stretch and become an officer, which forced him to get up in front of people.
"Public speaking, for me, is one of the best things I learned from him. I don't think about it anymore. Not a day goes by when I don't use those skills," he said.
In college Ben Frobose said much of course-work was a "re-hashing of things he had taught us."
Both Frobose brothers noted how many of Little's students are now prominent leaders in the community, not just in the agriculture field, but beyond.
Jake Frobose added, "Back then I didn't think anything about it, but now that I've been out of school for 14 years it is a class that I use everyday in life."
He says he uses the skills learned in both agriculture and business.
Little was born in Defiance and lived in the nearby Continental area.
It was always his goal to become a teacher in agriculture education, and it was fulfilled after he worked for five years in the automotive industry and three years in a dairy to earn the funds to attend college.
Over the years, Little says he has not really seen a change in the "kids," but what he has seen is how the variety of opportunities have grown and how the majority of students are now not growing up on farms.
When he first started at Eastwood most of his students were the sons of farmers. Female students were later added to the mix, and now the programs stretch far beyond the farm in various ag-related fields.
With many parents now working off the farm, one of his biggest challenges is to coordinate the required home visits.
"It's hard to catch people at home," Little said.
The retiring educator gives a lot of credit to others including the administration, his students and most importantly his wife, Marcia, and their son and daughter.
"My family has been my biggest supporters," he said.
His plans for retirement include travels with his wife, including a trip planed to the Mediterranean in September.
The couple also plan on participating in more couples retreats including trips to Cambodia and/or Thailand.
Visiting his children and grandchildren in Columbus and South Carolina is also required. Little said he will also likely be out in the field somewhere helping another farmer.
"Right now, I have enough on the table," he said.
Info Box: The public is invited to an open house for David Little's retirement. It will be May 18 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Riverview Banquet Centre, located at the American Legion Post in Pemberville. The open house will be hosted by the honoree's family and the Eastwood FFA.
Granite boulder presented to Eastwood's rock, Little
PEMBERVILLE - For 35 years, David Little has been a "rock solid" fixture at Eastwood Schools. At the end of this school year he will retire as the agricultural education teacher and adviser for the school's FFA program.
At the recent FFA banquet, a group of parents and alumni pooled their efforts and presented Little with a large granite boulder as a retirement gift. It was engraved as an eternal symbol of his being a stable fixture of the community. (See photo and related story on page 1.)
One of Little's former students Ben Frobose said, "We wanted to give him a rock because he has left lasting memory in our lives and we wanted to leave something as a lasting memory for him."
"When I saw the rock, I thought I was dreaming," Little said of his reaction. "That goes above and beyond what people would do to show their appreciation."
The idea of the rock came from John Russell, who has had five children go through Little's classroom.
"We think highly of the program and highly of him," Russell said. "You wanted something that would last and honor him, not just a plaque on the wall."
He said he really enjoys hardscapes and has had similar work done previously.
One trick was to keep the gift a surprise, while still raising enough money to pay for the gift.
Russell said the boulder has been delivered to Little's home, and it is his understanding that it will be placed at Babyland during the Wood County Fair each year.
Little initiated the founding of the small animal exhibit at the Wood County Fairgrounds and the Eastwood FFA chapter operates Babyland each year.
Little said that it might one day find a permanent home at Babyland.
"We want people to see it," Russell said.
Russell said there are many people who are deeply appreciative of Little's contribution to the students and community.
"My kids have learned a lot in that class including public speaking. It has really helped build their confidence," Russell said. "There are a lot of benefits from FFA that people don't recognize."
He indicated there have been some generous donors toward the gift and he said if enough money is not raised, he and his family will cover the costs.
However, the goal which is expected to be exceeded is to go far beyond the cost of the boulder. Any donations beyond the costs for the boulder will be used for a scholarship in Little's name to continue his work of educating children.
"I was really overwhelmed with the rock," Little reflected. "For them to consider me a rock in the community is very humbling."