Jon Wolf honored by Black Hawk College East Foundation

From left are Dr. Thomas Baynum, Black Hawk College president; Jane and Jon Wolf; Steve Spivey, president of the Black Hawk College East Foundation; Chanda Dowell, vice president for the East Campus; and Liz Breedlove, executive director of the Black Hawk College East Foundation.

On March 27, 2012, the Black Hawk College East Foundation honored professor emeritus Jon Wolf, inducting him into the Wall of Fame. Honorees have provided outstanding service and/or leadership to the foundation and/or the Black Hawk College East Campus as well as the community.

“There’s a building on the hill that stands now as a symbol – not a symbol of a man or a woman who in a moment in time either opened their wallet or who exercised political clout – but a symbol of how one man’s disciplined and tireless passion and career grew to become a shared passion among faculty and students for nearly 40 years … and counting,” said Chanda Dowell, vice president for the East Campus, referring to Wolf.

“It’s both a tale and a legacy grounded in passion – the very passion that has become the fabric of the East Campus culture and its reputation of excellence in equine programs and across disciplines,” she said.

Wolf was hired in 1974 to develop and implement a horse science program at the East Campus where he served as a faculty member for 31 years. He also created the college’s Horse Judging Team and developed it into a nationally recognized program before retiring and leaving it in the capable hands of his successors.

“On Sept. 20, 1974, we had three students in the horse science program,” Wolf said. Now – 38 years, thousands of students and numerous national horse judging team championships later – Wolf continues to support the college.

Outside the college, Wolf developed and promotes his own DVD horse judging instructional series to continue to educate interested people, serves in the Kewanee FFA Alumni Association and is an approved judge for the American Miniature Horse Association, the American Miniature Horse Registry and the Ponies of the Americas Club where he has judged nationally and internationally. He also has served as a 4-H leader and temporary ag teacher and FFA advisor at Kewanee High School.

In retirement, Wolf  has worked as a substitute teacher in local school districts where his skills as a grandfather carry him through a day as a kindergarten teacher or where his relational skills find him equally adept at managing a high school classroom. Wolf is the executive secretary of the Black Hawk College Agri-Business Club Alumni and has filled in two times as college recruiter during transition periods, inspiring potential students with his quiet guidance and encouragement.

“I have personally relied on Jon’s passion for and knowledge about Black Hawk College. When I became the vice president of the East Campus, Jon willingly sat down with me for lunch and talked through the history of how programs were developed and the future of where programs could go, mentoring me in that which I was entrusted to lead,” Dowell said.

Steve Spivey, president of the BHC East Foundation, said, “I’ve known Jon since I was a student here. He is a distinguished member of the faculty who has touched the lives of so many students and so many have gone on to serve this institution and themselves well.”

“Jon is an incredible part of the campus community,” said Dr. Thomas Baynum, recently hired president of Black Hawk College. “When you see him working with parents and students (thinking of coming to Black Hawk College), you see him connect with them on their level.”

“Tonight is dedicated to 38 years of students,” Wolf said. “They are the ones who inspired me to be a better teacher and a better coach.”

He said he has “enjoyed every minute” of 31 years of teaching, but said working as a part-time recruiter was his favorite job.

“Black Hawk College East Campus is an easy sell,” he said. “We have great facilities and an outstanding faculty, which makes it easy to meet prospective students.”

Wolf thanked Jane, his wife, for “almost single-handedly” raising their three daughters Julie, Jamie and Jackie (all are East Campus alumna) while he was away building a nationally recognized equine program.

He also thanked his early fellow ag staff members Lanny Anderson, Dan Hoge and Eldon R. “Bud” Aupperle for “showing by example.”

“They set the bar high and showed if you want students to give something to you, you first have to give something to them,” he said. Wolf also noted he was “especially proud” of the current equine teaching and coaching staff, Donna Irvin, Aaron Callahan and Drew Cotton.

The honoree also praised Liz Breedlove, executive director of the Black Hawk College East Foundation, for taking support of college programs to a new level with scholarships and assistance for classroom and coaching needs.

Black Hawk College East Foundation accomplishments
Breedlove said that since last year’s Wall of Fame reception, the BHC East Foundation has continued its mission by providing the following support to the East Campus:

  1. $6,000 in mini-grants for the science, equine and art departments for instructional materials and special projects to enhance the educational experiences of existing and prospective students.
  2. 81 scholarship awards totaling $83,283 to 64 students for the 2011-2012 academic year. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, the BHC East Foundation currently maintains 68 scholarship funds with assets over $1.34 million. Two new scholarships – the Burns Grange 1839 Agricultural Scholarship and the Barbara J. Curran Golby CNA Scholarship – were awarded. In October 2011, more than $56,000 was raised from the Boot Scootin’ Barn Dance & BBQ, creating three new endowed and three new annual scholarships for the BHC Equine Program.
  3. More than $11,000 was raised through the e4e Employee Giving Campaign which funded new landscaping at the front entrance to the college as well as scholarships.
  4. $5,800 was contributed to the East Foundation from the 2011 Dave Lapan Golf Outing to the Dave Lapan Endowed Scholarship Fund for athletic scholarships.
  5. The Agri-Business Club Alumni affiliated with the BHC East Foundation making donations to the ABCA tax deductible under the foundation’s 501(c)(3) designation. This partnership will benefit both organizations through increased revenue opportunities in support of the ABCA and the BHC Agriculture Program. The ABCA raised nearly $4,000 from its annual banquet in February to support the needs of our ag departments.
  6. In November 2011, $7,500 in proceeds from the Livestock Judging Alumni Reunion was contributed to the BHC East Foundation for the purpose of supporting the Livestock Judging Team. The 2010 proceeds paid for their entrance fees and travel expenses associated with judging contests.
  7. Numerous facility improvements were made to Prairie Pointe Apartments and a formal resident assistant program was instituted in order to continue to provide safe, convenient and affordable housing to 83 East Campus students.
  8. The BHC East Foundation continues to lease farm land to the college for the Agronomy Lab and serves as co-trustee and beneficiary of the Walnut Ridge and Colgan Farm Trusts with a combined acreage of 240 acres in Henry and Stark counties.

“None of these things would have been possible without those honored on the Wall of Fame,” Breedlove said. “Past recipients have been successful businessmen and women, successful members of the faculty and successful members of the community, all chosen for their lasting and significant impact on the Black Hawk College East Foundation and/or East Campus.”

To be considered for the Wall of Fame or Distinguished Service Award, nominees must provide exceptional service to the BHC East Foundation and/or East Campus. In addition, they also meet one or more of the following criterion:

  1. Outstanding service and/or leadership in a community served by the East Campus;
  2. Outstanding service and/or leadership by a resident of the local community who has ties to the East Campus which significantly benefits the state of Illinois or the United States; and/or
  3. Noteworthy academic achievement or scholarship associated with the East Campus of Black Hawk College.

Since 1992, a total of 50 deserving, successful individuals and organizations have been inducted into the Wall of Fame or received the Distinguished Service Award.

For more information about the Black Hawk College East Foundation, contact Liz Breedlove, executive director, at 309-854-1715 or breedlovel@bhc.edu.