Until now.

His teaching career at the college began in 1980, a time in which Jackson knew he was here to stay.

“It didn’t take me long to figure that out,� Jackson said.

But his journey to becoming a ceramics instructor started with a degree in recreation management at the University of Oregon in 1972. Art, at the time, wasn’t a huge priority for Jackson. He had grown up with an athletic background, he said, and recreation management seemed like a good fit.

But when he picked up a couple of books on ceramics, he knew.

“This was something I wanted to try,� he said.

After time spent in Shaniko on a pottery kick wheel, Jackson returned to school. Eight years later, he had earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, Washington.

When he saw an open teaching position for ceramics at Treasure Valley Community College in 1980, Jackson took it.

Ontario, for Jackson, was very similar to his hometown of Condon.

“The people I grew up with were from a small town,� Jackson said. “They were passionate about what they did, like me.�

But when Jackson began his tenure at Treasure Valley Community College, the lecture style of the art department had the man scratching his head.

“It just didn’t make sense,� he said. “It wasn’t engaging the students.�

Thankfully, Jackson said, TVCC took a student-first approach in the mid- to early-1980s, when engagement became the priority.

“It definitely knocked down a lot of hurdles for the students,� Jackson said.

With the new approach, Jackson said he and the rest of the art department shifted focus from having students show their work, to learning by doing.

For Jackson, his teaching reflects his attitude of “as long as it’s fun.�

If he travels, for example, he brings something representative of that place back to the classroom to share with the students.

“You can bring back those experiences,� Jackson said. “It makes some parallels when you’re teaching art.�

Technology has played a large role in what Jackson teaches, he said. He now teaches computer graphics, alongside other classes including drawing, art history, basic design and ceramics.

Because of his adoration for the Ontario community, Jackson has stepped out of the classroom to contribute. In 2004, for example, he donned the role of chairman of the Malheur Cultural Trust, and has donated his work to various organizations and activities including area chambers of commerce and Center Ball. Jackson also has partnered with ROSE Advocates to have his students craft soup bowls for the organization’s fundraising efforts. Jackson said 400 bowls are donated annually.

John Breidenbach, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said that was one of the big considerations the organization’s committee of past presidents used to make its selection.

“The work he has done for the college all these years has been significant,� Breidenbach said. “The faculty and students have a lot of respect for the work he does for the community.�