By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
Jack Capp (B.S., ’65; M.S., ’67) recalls former CSU president Bill Morgan saying at his graduation ceremony:
I want each of you to think hard about what I am going to say to you right now. The reason each of you had a chance to sit in your graduation chair today is because of the people that came before you. They built this University. You cannot pay them back, but you can give back so others like you will have a chance to sit in the same chair you are sitting in right now.
Capp has never forgotten that message; giving back became a central part of his life.
He also has held steadfast to his early occupational goal. Capp’s mother saved a paper he wrote in ninth grade on, “What I want to be when I grow up.” His answer was, “a wildlife biologist.” That goal brought him to CSU for degrees in wildlife biology and then to a career in the U.S. Forest Service. He says, “CSU made my dream come true.”
During his 38 years in the Forest Service, he made nine moves, including stints in New Mexico, Oregon, California, Alaska, Washington, D.C., and Colorado. During one stint in D.C., he worked for U.S. Senator Harry Reid as part of a U.S. government fellowship program.
After retiring, he taught nature education at inner city schools in Houston and Chicago. Capp believes “it is very important for these children to have direct contact with nature.”
While a student, Capp founded and became president of the CSU chapter of The Wildlife Society, which remains active today. As an alumnus, he became a Life Member of the Alumni Association; “it gives me the opportunity to stay in touch with this University I love.”
Capp served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and as president of the Ram Alumni Athletes Association. He also worked with CSU Athletics’ Hall of Fame and volunteers at the Ram Welcome picnics for new students and their families, Ag Day, and Athletics’ Football 101 and Basketball 101 programs as well as at other activities for international students.
He became convinced of the importance of higher education to a democratic society while doing international projects with the U.S. government. Working in a Maasai village in Kenya, he realized that their greatest need was education. That realization has stayed with him; he supports scholarships and other funds at CSU, including his Natural Resource Conservation Scholarship. He keeps in touch with recipients of that scholarship, one of whom is in Kenya.
When speaking with students, Capp urges them to get outside the classroom and develop leadership and interpersonal skills. He also stresses the importance of being an effective member of a team and of developing skills that will enable them to influence decisions. He says of these young people, “their future is bright, and they will help change the world.”
Jack Capp has been helping to change our world in a variety of positive ways.