Cultivate – (v.) to prepare and develop for use by education or training, to further or encourage, create something through work and effort.
Larry Wade Malone, “Big L” to many, was regular ole country boy who worked hard on the farm as a youngster and developed an immediate love for animals, especially horses. He worked hard in school and as a member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) because he knew hard work took you places. He farmed with his dad and paid for his education at Mississippi State University with profits from his job checking cotton.
Mr. Malone carried his knowledge and love for agriculture into the lives of countless people especially young people. He spent 38 years teaching agriculture to high school students, however, agriculture was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to what he taught.
Mr. Malone taught young people how to prepare for the future, regardless of the future they wanted. He helped them develop skills that related to agriculture such as how to care for livestock and where crops grow best. But, he also taught them life skills such as how to always look someone in the eye when you give a firm handshake and how much flour it takes to make great sausage gravy. He believed in teaching kids “what they needed to know,” whatever that was. One piece of advice he often shared was “your banker and your insurance agent should be a real person that you can go into an office and sit down across from and talk with; stay away from those internet scams.” It wasn’t that he was against technology; he was for relationships. He encouraged his students to cultivate relationships and remain faithful to those relationships. He always made sure his students knew that a man was only as good as his word. In addition, Mr. Malone made sure his students knew that respectable young people, never dared wearing a cap with official FFA dress clothes. In fact, hats and caps were not to be worn in a building at all.
He taught through action. Once, when two young boys wanted to show livestock, he drove hours up into Tennessee to get them goats. He went to their house and helped them build a pen and taught them to care for their goats. He cultivated something in those boys that wouldn’t be learned in a classroom. If a young person wanted to work toward a goal, Mr. Malone found a way to help he or she achieve that goal.
While Mr. Malone did harvest crops and raise livestock of his own, the most important thing he ever prepared was the young people of Tate County. He and the love of his life, Mrs. Linda, blessed Tate County with two beautiful daughters that each follow in their father’s footsteps with their love for horses and agriculture. They passed their love of horses and agriculture onto his six grandchildren, who have all participated in livestock shows, FFA, or agriculture in some aspect. Mr. Malone didn’t only care for and nurture his family. He loved each group of his FFA kids like they were his own. Each group was convinced that they were his favorite group. Well Done, Larry Malone, well done.