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McCanless Family Scholarship Fund

McCanless Family Scholarship Fund

The McCanless Family Scholarship Fund is funded by Jack and Donell McCanless. They were both very much working class individuals who lived through the depression era and well as WWII. Jack served in the military as an Intelligence & Reconnaissance Specialist earning a Silver Star along with other medals for his demonstration of courage and bravery in battling the enemy across France, Belgium, and Germany until he was wounded and then went to Great Britain to work on allied airplanes. After the war he returned to Ferndale for a time to work on a dairy before moving to Berkeley where he married Donell. They had both attended grammar school and high school (except 12th grade which was not taught in Petrolia). Jack worked at Pacific Lumber Company (PLC) for approximately 18 years. During his last 2 to 4 years at PL Jack started building up a small herd of heifers and cows and milked both morning and night before going to work at PL. The McCanless Dairy started by Jack in the early 60’s is now run by Jack’s grandson and is now over 500 cows in size. Jack never had the advantage of having FFA classes in high school or animal science classes at the college level. He basically learned the dairy business by talking with other Ferndale dairymen and working 7 days a week. That is why Jack would like the idea of scholarship funds going to an individual that has demonstrated a very strong work ethic and has an interest in pursuing Agricultural Science, may have had to overcome other life challenges and may have not had the advantages that other more fortunate students have had.

Donell graduated from Berkley in 1947 with a degree in education. After her three sons reached school age she began her teaching career teaching at Price Creek Elementary, a one room, classes first through eighth grades. A significant part of her teaching career was as a Special Ed teacher in Ferndale Elementary where she worked with young kids who had different needs than some of the regular students. She received great gratification in working with her Special Ed kids and went above and beyond occasionally rewarding a student or group of students with a weekend trip to the family cabin in Petrolia or some other fun activity. She took her job very seriously and customized her teaching to match the needs of the individual students she was working with. In her later years she always loved running into many of the students she worked with and they always told her how helpful she was and many would say she was their best teacher. Donell was an avid gardener (recently rewarded 47 year certificate from the Ferndale Garden Club), knitter, baker, canner, VFW supporter (she worked at the VFW breakfasts collecting money at the door into her 90s. She was well known in Humboldt County for spinning her own wool and knitting hats or other knitted items out of the hair of people’s pets. For many years she demonstrated her knitting skills at the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale and always loved talking to old students and meeting people from many different countries. Donell would like to see the McCanless Family Scholarship Fund recipient be a person who has a demonstrated work ethic and someone who has overcome adversity in their lives that may have put them at a disadvantage when it comes to pursuing educational goals beyond high school. Donell would be particularly pleased if the scholarship were to go to someone who has aspirations similar to her own working in Special Ed or a related field of education.

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