June 2016 Newsletter
MJC Announces Distinguished Alumnus for 2016
John. R. Scheuber, Class of 1960
John Scheuber began his 60 year affiliation with Modesto Junior College during his junior year at Modesto High School while involved with the Future Farmers of America. Following his high school graduation in 1957, John completed his military training in the US Army Reserves at Fort Ord prior to his 18th birthday. Before the spring semester of 1958 John was offered a scholarship by MJC Dairy Instructor Dave Risling if he would attend MJC. He accepted the offer and “the rest is history.”
John began his studies at MJC as a dairy science major following in the footsteps of brothers Leo and Ernie and sister Anita. John rekindled his relationship with high school sweetheart, Margie Olsen, whom he married just after their MJC graduation in 1960. In 1963, following his completion of a Bachelor’s Degree in Ag Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Education from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, John took one of the most prestigious jobs in agriculture education in California as instructor of agriculture business at Modesto Junior College.
Since college John has spent 10 years as an agriculture educator (named Teacher of the Year by the MJC student body in 1972), and 43 years in the management of agricultural businesses. His first industry experience, inspired by former MJC poultry instructor, George Biddle, was managing a totally integrated, 1 million bird, egg laying operation in Indiana. This provided him with diverse management experience: egg production, feed mill operation, grain elevator operation, egg processing, and marketing. After five years he moved back to Modesto with Marge (who had obtained her teaching credential in Indiana) and their four children to become the General Manager of Veterinary Service, Inc., an animal health distributor. During his tenure, VSI has grown from 31 employees to 280 and sales have increased from $6 million annually to $200 million. Until last year, John served as President and CEO of VSI. He is now semi-retired, serving as President of the Board of VSI.
Since returning to Modesto in 1978, John has been deeply involved in the local agriculture community. He has served for more than 30 years as chair of MJC’s Agriculture Advisory Committee. John also has served for more than 30 years on the California Community College Ag and Natural Resources Advisory Committee and has chaired that body for over 20 years. John also serves as past president of the National Ag Science Center Foundation which builds awareness of the importance of agriculture in our daily lives.
John Scheuber is the recipient of the National Future Farmers of America Honorary American Farmer Degree (1994) and the Kiwanis Club Service Award for Leadership in Agriculture (2004). His company, VSI, was inducted into the National Ag Science Hall of Fame (2013), and John was honored with the Good Egg Award for his lifetime contribution to agriculture (2014).
John feels blessed that his ag background, education, and experience have made it possible for him to be involved in many ag and community activities, as well as state and national committees that have benefitted his professional growth. He believes, “There is nothing more fulfilling and gratifying than to do something you truly love, knowing it is helpful to the cause and appreciated.”
Last year, John and Marge celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary and are delighted by seven grandchildren.
Legendary Coach Loved Every Day at MJC
By Jack Albiani
Retired MJC Professor of Physical Education and MJC Coach, Class of 1953
I attended MJC as a student athlete from 1951-1953. I was encouraged to attend MJC by then Coach Stan Pavko. My two years at MJC were very rewarding. The faculty and the coaching staff were great. I also made lifelong friends. After two years at MJC I transferred to San Jose State University and received my B.A. Later I received my M.A. from San Francisco State University. I was a teacher and coach in the bay area for several years, the last three at Contra Costa College. In the spring of 1969, Leon Lafaille, physical education department chairman, contacted me and asked if I would be interested in coming to MJC to teach and coach men’s cross country and track and field. (In 1983 I became women’s head coach as well) After several interviews, in September 1969, I was on the MJC faculty and a coach!
I was a professor and coached cross country and track and field (men and women) from September, 1969 through May, 1997, when I retired (28 years). I taught tennis and advanced first aid for six years after I retired. MJC gave me my start and then I gave back for all it did for me. I still try to help out when I can at home track meets and the MJC Student-Athlete Hall of Fame. It was a dream come true. There was never a day that I did not want to go to work. I had great students, a friendly faculty and administration. It was fun, enjoyable and rewarding. I was thrilled to be inducted into the MJC Athletics Hall of Fame both as an athlete and as a coach. I also was proud to receive the Purdy Award for Excellence in Education in 1997. Thank you MJC, it was an honor to serve you!
The Nichols Family’s Continuing Involvement
My daughter Karen and son John graduated from Davis High School with MJC involvement as spectators at Davis HS football games in the stadium. More importantly, they both attended their first two years of college at MJC on their way to bachelor’s degrees at Humboldt State (Karen) and UC Berkeley (John). My wife Betty was very grateful for the sewing classes of Margaret Rodgers in the mid-60’s and later, Survey of Antiques classes with Lee Nicholson. After discovering Masterworks Chorus she stayed with that for nearly three decades. Now it is Modesto Institute of Continued Learning classes. The whole family has attended numerous concerts, plays, events, special occasions, etc. etc…over so many years. What would we have done without MJC? I have had countless encounters with MJC instructors and staff. As Modesto Planning Director, I made an annual pilgrimage in the 1980s to MICL for an update on hot topic number one – urban growth.
Upon retirement in 1998, I joined MJC Masterworks Chorus for a number of years – the core of that group joining the Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus where I also sang. Later, I dashed over to Founders Hall for good friend Randy Siefkin’s Political Science class before Randy retired. Karen had also taken his class. Randy exemplified the enthusiastic teaching staff at MJC leaving lasting impressions. I continue to commit significant energies to MICL as a past President; active presenter; and avid student including Beginners’ French and Spanish! MJC has been and continues to be a very important stimulant to our family’s life.
MJC Biology Professor – Retired
In the fall of 1961 I attended MJC as a student. Modesto Junior College prepared me with a rigorous foundation so that I was successful in earning a Master of Arts degree. Dr. Cohen inspired me to major in Biology and that was the beginning of a lovely career in teaching. To my delight I was hired to teach at MJC in the area of biological sciences – I was the first woman to teach science at MJC. I credit my fine preparation by instructors at MJC that made this appointment possible.
There is a thread running through each of our stories this quarter. All of these fine people have taught at Modesto Junior College. We know from reading more than 500 stories that the faculty of our fine college have had the greatest impact on our alumni. Lynn Hansen, Jack Albiani and John Scheuber are excellent examples of the stellar core of full-time faculty we’ve had at MJC over the years. And Bill Nichols is an example of our volunteer teacher corps from our community-based, emeritus college for older adults, the Modesto Institute for Continued Learning (MICL).
What makes a great teacher? Renee Moore, a member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, was quoted in a National Public Radio article recently as stating: “They start or move the minds of their students along a path, prepare them for the journey and propel them into the future. And they do it consistently and passionately.”
Based on the stories we’ve received from very successful and thoughtful alumni, MJC has been home to hundreds of educators who have practiced this approach throughout our 94-year history. And it continues to be true today. We thank our faculty, classified staff and administrators for the important work they do. And we thank our students and alumni for putting forth the effort to learn and make the best of their education.
If you have a good story to tell about a great teacher or other experiences here at MJC, please contact me. I love a good story.
George Boodrookas, Ed.D.