WHERE ARE THEY NOW
August 28, 2013Rossville Middle High School
Ag/FFA instructor looks back on career: Well-wishers crowd open house Sunday
Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 4:00 am
When he was looking for work after coming out of the U.S. Army in the early 1970s, someone suggested Leon Greives should be an agriculture teacher. His response was that it would be “the last thing he would do.”
After 40 years as a teacher and FFA advisor, 39 of them at Rossville High School, he retired this year. On Sunday many of his former students came out to an open house held in conjunction with an FFA fundraiser at RHS.
He said changes in the agriculture program at RHS made it a good time to make the transition.
“As I turned 65 this year, I thought it might be an opportunity,” he said. “I’m still in good health, I still like working. It gives me an opportunity to just switch gears a little bit.”
Greives refers to it as “changing jobs,” rather than retiring.
“I’m going to shift gears a little bit, but I’m going to keep busy,” he said.
Among the well-wishers was Kyla Bavens, a 2003 RHS graduate now living in Cleveland, Ohio. She had been secretary and president of the FFA chapter while in high school.
“I worked with Mr. Greives doing parliamentary procedures and I would see him around the ag barn,” she said. “He was known for dry humor and sarcasm, and kind of a calming presence around the ag barn.”
She said Greives’ retirement surprised her.
“He’s the kind of guy you think is just going to work for all time. I’m sure he’ll still be finding things to do,” she said.
Since retiring June 30, Greives said he has been “enjoying life a little bit,” including going on vacation, celebrating his 40th anniversary, and visiting with grandchildren.
“Besides that I have a ton of construction work,” he said. “People know I like to work. I do construction, remodeling, possibly build a new house. There’s a variety of things I can do, and some things at home that need to be done.”
He came into education in a round-about way. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in general agriculture from Purdue, he was drafted and served two years with the U.S. Army. Coming out, he was looking for employment in agribusiness, but there were not a lot of jobs available.
Someone suggested he try teaching, and pointed out the G.I. Bill would pay for his additional education.
Greives did his student teaching at Rossville, then got a job at Clinton Central. However, about seven months later a job opened up at Rossville.
“I’ve been here ever since,” he said.
According to Greives, there have been a lot of changes in agriculture since he started, ranging from simple construction technology to the kinds of opportunities available.
“Right now the big thing is aquaculture, they’re raising fish and raising shrimp,” he said. “There’s a lot of opportunities that weren’t there when I started.”
Greives added he will miss the students. In some cases he has had both parents and children.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” he said. “You can look at those students when they come through the door, and it’s like a flashback. Those kids come in with the idea that their parents encouraged them to take the class. That means a lot to me, to be able to pass that along to both parents and their kids.”