Weld County native Jack Annan, aka ‘Mr. NJC,’ inducted into CSU Ag Hall of Fame
Annan’s statue reads:
“If Jack’s life were an open book, the pages would be tinged with gold. And we would read a story there to be remembered and retold.
For we would read of how he gave to NJC, to each and every one he met, the fullness that his heart could give, the love no one will forget.
He now has a permanent place here, this man who’s such a gem, a place where others can come to dream and lovingly honor him.”
• • •
All in the family:
Annan has seven family members, including his son, Bill Annan, who graduated from Colorado State University. His daughter, Sherry Talbott, graduated from the University of Northern Colorado, but Talbott’s daughter, Megan Bos, graduated in 2013 from NJC. Annan has a picture of Bos with his statue in his office.
When Jack Annan went to Colorado State University, he knew he wasn’t going to grow crops for the rest of his life.
He could have gone the traditional route and taken over the family farm in LaSalle, like many did. But the Weld County land that housed hogs and grew sugar beets, alfalfa hay, potatoes, oats and corn also helped sprout his dreams of something else.
“I really enjoyed growing up on the farm and being involved in it,” Annan said. “I thought it would be great to work with students and teach them about agriculture. It proved to be an exciting time.”
He went to CSU to learn how to grow the minds and interest of high school students, a crop different than those he grew up tending. He went back to grad school at CSU in 1965, before he started teaching at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling. One thing stayed planted in his mind the whole time — agriculture.
It was a love for ag and the land that made Annan want to teach. He didn’t want to farm; he wanted to help others learn about the industry.
For his contributions to agricultural education, Annan was recently inducted into the CSU Ag Hall of Fame.
Annan studied vocational agriculture for his bachelor’s degree at CSU, never letting go of the farm on which he grew up. Annan still owns the farm today and rents it out.
After college, Annan joined the U.S. Army. When he returned to Colorado after being stationed in Maryland, he worked as a science teacher in New Raymer. There, he organized the high school’s ag department and FFA chapter. From there, he moved to Grover, where he continued to teach agriculture.
“Those were true, genuine people and their mind was school-set,” Annan said of his high school students. “It was an excellent teaching environment in both places.”
After getting his master’s degree, Annan began teaching agriculture at Northeastern Junior College. There, he also started the Aggies Club, or the college’s agriculture organization.
In 1970, Annan helped start and continue the Colorado Young Farmers Educational Association. The group was formed to help with the education of potential future farmers — it’s essentially FFA for adults. Annan was named the executive secretary at the group’s start, and held that position until last year.
In 1972, a new position opened up at Northeastern Junior College. Annan went from teaching agriculture to traveling across Colorado to recruit students to learn about agriculture — or any topic — at NJC.
Among those students was Stanton Gartin. Gartin met Annan at Otis High School. Gartin was president of the Colorado FFA before he went to NJC. Now, he’s the vice president of academic services for the college.
“He is so personable that he makes everyone feel like they’re the only person in the world,” Gartin said. “He’s really genuine when you visit with him.”
Annan called Gartin one of the FFA success stories.
While he grew up and started his family in Weld County, his home is Sterling, and more specifically, the NJC campus. That becomes obvious after spending only a few minutes with him. He loves the campus.
He will tell you the average class size in regular conversation — 20-30 students. You’ll learn the school is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and that it was one of the first two-year colleges in Colorado.
And those are only a few facts he knows about the campus he’s dedicated the past 50 years of his life. But his sport coat wasn’t the Plainsman gold or black. It was green and he wore a matching green tie, the color of his alma mater — CSU.
In 1993, Annan decided to finally retire, but he continued to work part time in the admissions office. In 1996, he became the executive director of the Alumni Association for NJC — a title he still holds today.
“I thought it would be interesting because I’d been in admissions for long,” he said. “I knew them as students (at NJC) and in high school. I was familiar with hundreds of NJC graduates.”
Annan’s office sits on the second floor of Walker Hall, which is the furthest east building on the NJC main campus. It’s about a three-minute walk west to the student union center where the Colorado Young Farmers Education Association was formed.
If you’re walking to the student union from Walker Hall you’ll see a familiar face — just set in a lot more bronze.
In 2004, a statue of Annan was finished in honor of his time and dedication to the campus. Annan stands next to the statue, looking mostly the same as his metal counterpart. He’s wearing a similar suit jacket, his tie hangs at the same length over an identical belt. As he spouts off a few more facts about the campus, he’s smiling a little. The statue is called Mr. NJC.❖
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