COOLIDGE — If there’s one thing he remembers most about going to school at Coolidge High School, it would be his teachers.
David Anderson is a professor and extension economist with the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University and one of four people who will be inducted into the Coolidge High School Hall of Fame on Friday.
“There’s a lot of great people that have been inducted into (the Hall of Fame),” he said. “So it’s a real honor.”
Anderson graduated from CHS in 1983 at the top of his class. But for him, the part of high school that sticks out most is the people he went to school with.
“I went to school with lots of really great people,” he said. “We had some really good teachers too.”
Among the teachers that made a significant impact on him during his high school career, Anderson said, were previous Hall of Fame inductees like Cy Henry and Jim Whipple. Two other teachers he fondly remembers were former FFA instructor Ross Anderson and Dave Dobbins.
Years after his graduation, what stayed with Anderson the longest is what he learned about public speaking through the FFA program. As a member of FFA, Anderson was named the district president and the state vice president.
While attending Coolidge High, Anderson also participated in several extracurricular activities including band, where he played the trumpet. In addition, he was a member of the track team — something he now looks back on with a chuckle while quipping that he had no “talent” for the sport.
Still, the value of his participation in the sport is not lost on him. He credits Coolidge’s small-town atmosphere for giving him the chance to get involved.
“There’s opportunities to be involved that you get in small schools that I don’t think you get at big schools,” he said. “So I did track and it was fun. You’d have an individual event, but it’s also a team sport — and that’s a good thing to be involved in.”
It’s those types of opportunities that he also hopes students currently attending CHS will take advantage of.
“I think all the ingredients to succeed are there,” he said. “There were good teachers, good opportunities, as a smaller school there were opportunities to be involved in everything ... (but it’s) on you to go grab it too.”
Following high school, Anderson attended the University of Arizona, studying agricultural economics for both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Not long after he had completed his master’s, he was granted an opportunity to obtain a PhD in the same subject at Texas A&M, which he gladly took.
In 1996 he was asked to return to Texas A&M as a professor, where he currently teaches graduate classes alongside his research. Since his early days in college, Anderson has always been interested in the field of agricultural economics — something he said was fueled by his love of learning.
“The type of work I do is very applied,” he said. “I work on stuff that’s real problems that real people (have) and I do research on those to come up with answers.”
Anderson’s research has been featured in a number of publications and he even is a trusted source on topics related to livestock and agriculture for National Public Radio. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards, the most recent of which is Texas A&M AgriLife Extension's Superior Service Award.
Anderson, however, attributes part of the success he has seen throughout his career to what he learned while a high school student in Coolidge — even noting that it was math teachers like Whipple who gave him the tools to be a strong researcher and doctoral candidate.
“I think I was fortunate enough to grow up in a place with lots of good people that I learned a lot of good stuff from,” he said.