Courtesy of Braden Groth
ELKTON, Ore. — Retired agricultural teacher Denny Quinby was recently honored as one of only six individuals nationwide who received the National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Service Citation.
Quinby retired in 2010 after a 31-year educational career as the ag teacher and FFA advisor at Elkton High School. He chartered the ag program at the school in 1980.
“I feel very honored,” he said. “But I don’t do things in life for recognition. I don’t want to be on the stage. I want the kids to be up there on the stage. Keeping kids in school in order for them to graduate, that was always my ultimate goal, not the recognition.”
So when looking for Quinby, look behind the scenes of the Douglas County Lamb Show or the Douglas County Fair. He is all about the kids and their animal projects at those events getting the spotlight while he helps with advice and guidance from the sidelines.
But thanks to a couple of his younger colleagues who initiated his nomination, Quinby was selected for the national service citation. He was recognized for his many contributions to his profession, both while teaching and continuing into retirement. He has been the chairman of the Lamb Show committee for the past five years and has helped with ag courses and projects at some county schools since retiring.
Quinby and his wife, Shortie, established the Elkton Wranglers 4-H Club and were its leaders for 30 years until retiring from it in 2010.
During his career at Elkton High, Quinby had two students become state FFA officers. He supervised many students through traditional and nontraditional agricultural experiences — projects related to agriculture that helped the students connect classroom learning to real-world activities.
Rachel Kostman, the ag science teacher at Oakland High School and a former student of Quinby’s at Elkton, said the Umpqua District ag teachers nominated Quinby for the award.
“He has devoted his life to ag education,” Kostman said. “Even in retirement he has stayed involved, mentoring young teachers in the district and inspiring students to learn hands-on applicable skills. He has a passion for agriculture and for agricultural education.”
Quinby has remained active in the FFA Forestry Career Development Event, a competition that develops student skills related to diagnosing forest disorders and managing forests. He has helped at the district and state level competitions and has coached forestry teams from Elkton and Oakland that have competed at the national level.
In the nomination letter that was submitted on behalf of Quinby by the Umpqua District, his continuing efforts to mentor both teachers and students were emphasized.
“Mr. Quinby has taken the role as a mentor to the current advisor (Braden Groth) of the Elkton agriculture program and other advisors in the district, a leadership role that is unmeasurable. Though he is retired, he still has a positive impact on students through his active role in the agricultural educational community. He still has, and always will have, a heart for kids.”
Even while helping others, Quinby does have his own agricultural projects at his home in the Elkton area — a mother cow and sheep operation.
“I guess I’ve just done some things right,” he said of the recognition. “I wouldn’t have done any of this if I hadn’t enjoyed it. I’ve done this for the betterment of the kids and the school system. If you want to help kids improve themselves, you have to give them your time.”