College of Agriculture


Jack Nolan

Jack was born in 1920 in Pleasanton, CA, where his father worked as foreman of a hay and grain business. Jack's interest in agriculture was sparked at an early age as he accompanied his dad and various farmers on grain deliveries. While Jack was in high school, the Nolan family moved to San Simeon, California where his father went to work on the Hearst Ranch.

Upon graduating from San Luis Obispo High School in 1938, Jack enrolled in college at Cal Poly to study Animal Science. His college career was halted in December of 1941 when Jack, like many young men at the time, enlisted in the army after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Jack became an Artillery Observer in the 3rd Infantry Division and landed in French Morocco in 1942. From there, Jack and his regiment fought with distinction through North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany, earning a Silver Star and a Purple Heart along the way. Ever the agricultural scientist, Jack conducted soil studies while digging foxholes, and he took advantage of the opportunity to study grapes and vineyards in France's Rhone Valley, "mainly by picking the grapes and eating them!"

Jack was honorably discharged from service in 1944 and made his way back to San Luis Obispo, where he married his high school sweetheart and resumed his studies at Cal Poly. After graduating with a Bachelors degree in Animal Science, and a teaching credential, Jack took a job teaching agriculture at Colusa High School, where he remained for 12 years. During his summers, Jack earned his Master's degree at UC Davis.

In 1958, Jack was hired by Loren Phillips to teach Animal Science and Ag Mechanics in the new agriculture department at Chico State College. Jack and his wife Faye made Chico their home, raising their children Nancy, Cathy, and John.

During the next 22 years, Jack helped make the ag department what it is today, working alongside his friend Bob Wallace and other faculty to acquire and build the college farm. Jack managed the sheep unit for 12 years, and led the ag mechanics program. He was very active in FFA and other youth-related activities, and judged parliamentary procedure, public speaking, and livestock contests all over the state.

Jack said, "I enjoyed every minute of my teaching in high school and college. I actually thought I should be paying them instead of the other way around."

jack nolan