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Posted on Sep 1, 2017

The good get better at Quincy FFA

Friends for 33 years. Co-workers for the first time.
That’s the story brewing at Quincy FFA, where the spot left open by Liz Graaf has been filled by Chelan educator Rod Cool, a longtime pal of FFA adviser Mike Wallace.
Wallace and Cool, the former clean-shaven, the latter an owner of an iconic mustache, relish the idea of working together decades after they met at Washington State University when Cool was a senior and Wallace was a freshman.

At left, Rod Cool, at right, Mike Wallace, longtime FFA advisers, longtime friends and now working together for the first time in the same school. Cool has replaced Liz Graaff, who got a job teaching at a private school in Ephrata.
Photo by Sebastian Moraga/Post-Register

“I’m at a point in my career where I want to try something different, and this is a really good job,” Cool said. “And with one of my best friends.”
Cool and Wallace will share duties at FFA, with Cool taking care of, among other things, the public-relations side of the club. Cool will teach plant science, general agricultural science and floriculture.
“Rod is a lot more vocal than I am, more outspoken, and he’s very good at publicity,” Wallace said. “And I think that’s awesome.”
Cool said there was not anything in particular that made him leave Chelan, where he had built a powerhouse program at that school’s FFA.
In addition, Cool is a visible presence at FFA around the state, judging at a handful of county fairs, including Skamania County, near the Oregon border. In fact, this is the first year in more than two decades that he is not a member of the Chelan County Fair board.
Instead, the focus is on next week’s Farmer-Consumer Awareness Day, then the Evergreen Tours, then convention prep.
“Got a busy fall coming up with the kids, getting things rolling with them right away,” Cool said, adding that FCAD will help him meet some of the students in Quincy Valley.
With school starting this week, Cool has already made a difference in the lives of his co-workers. For starters, he helped Wallace make his first-ever Facebook post.
“That was a milestone for me,” Wallace quipped. “Haven’t done it since, but at least I did it once.”
The two friends never thought they would get to work together. Now that the chance is here, they can’t wait.
“We are going to do some really good things with kids,” Cool said. “We have been doing this a long time, so having all our experience and having the same kind of work ethic is going to allow us to really make an impact.”
Wallace agreed. “We are going to make better people. Our job is to teach agriculture, but in my mind that’s secondary. Kids are going to be adults, responsible citizens. We are going to pretty much demand that people be good people.”
He continued, “I’m really excited about that, because I think it’s really needed: having educated people that are good people, and who know how to treat people and are respectful.”
One of the areas that Cool will not be able to make an impact is in his friend’s tonsorial choices.
“I’m not a facial hair guy,” Wallace said, lamenting the fact that two of his children have joined the face-blanket club.
“They have scruffy beards, they look homeless,” he joked. “I’m like, ‘one of these days, when you’re sleeping, you’re going to wake up with half a beard. I’ll only shave half, and you will have to shave the other half or you will look like a dork.”
Conversely, Cool has no plans to join his buddy in the smooth-faced club.
“The last time I shaved, my kids were 3 and 1,” he said of his now-grown children. “It scared them so bad, they didn’t know who I was.”

By Sebastian Moraga,

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