Forestry appealed to John Jackson when he was younger, and he graduated from Purdue University in forestry in 1975. However, after working in the industry in places like Idaho and realizing he could be reassigned every six months, he looked for something more permanent. He returned to Indiana and geared up to be an ag teacher.
"The irony is I came to Martinsville in 1978 and have stayed here 36 years," he says. "From a job where I was going to be moved perhaps every six months, it's quite a change. I've literally been teaching in the same room in the high school for 36 years."
One of Jackson's duties is to be in charge of the greenhouse. Besides using it to teach students how to operate a greenhouse, the annual plant sale has become a community tradition. On the morning they open the doors for the sale, people back up in the parking lot waiting to get their turn to buy plants the chapter has grown, Jackson says. Kids are involved, even handling money and making sales.
When it comes to accomplishments, Jackson points to the kids he hopes he has had some influence on during his years of teaching. He now has kids of some of his earlier students.
"Apparently the parents thought they learned something because they have their kids take the class too," he says. "That's rewarding by itself. I will see students I have had around town and in good positions and being good members of the community."
Jackson currently teaches with Donnie Sheldon, who handles mechanics classes. He and his students restored the Empire tractor a year ago, and exhibit it at various places, including the Indiana State Fair. The school has indicated they intend to keep a two-teacher department, and fill Jackson's position as he retires.