Generation Buckeye

By Emily Reed

The connection The Ohio State University Buckeyes share is irreplaceable. Whether it’s singing the alma mater, “Carmen, Ohio,” at a football game, refusing to acknowledge the letter “m” or screaming “O-H” in a crowd of Buckeyes, Ohio State is rich in history and tradition. Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is home to many Buckeyes – some who are not the first from their household to set foot on campus.

Mike and Jill Nolan graduated from Ohio State with degrees in agriculture. They enjoy life on their homestead in Wakeman, Ohio. Their two children, Patrick and Mikal Nolan, also attended Ohio State and are CFAES graduates, making the Nolan family a second-generation Buckeye family.

Ray and Colleen Jackson and their daughter, Ella King, are also alumni of Ohio State. The Jackson family owns a dairy farm and a creamery business in De Graff, Ohio. Over the past 25 years, Ray and Colleen have built a life together raising calves and kids. They have four children and milk about 70 Holstein cows on their 150-acre farm in rural Logan County.

The Nolan and Jackson families feel that their time at Ohio State prepared them well, and are thankful for the opportunity to share many of those same memories and lessons with their children.


The alma mater states, “time and change will surely show,” but no matter how much has changed, some Ohio State traditions will always remain the same.

“Even 40 years between when we were there and when our children were there it’s changed, but it hasn’t changed all that much,” Mike Nolan said. “You have the same experiences, you walk through the same campus, you see the same Mirror Lake, you visit the same football stadium.”

You have the same experiences, you walk through the same campus, you see the same Mirror Lake, you visit the same football stadium.

Agriculture is a way of life for the Nolan and Jackson families. They grew up with it and quickly developed a passion for the field which they later passed on to their children.

Jill Nolan said, “You don’t look at the university as a whole necessarily, but you see that small portion you fit into.” Jill and Mike both loved their time at Ohio State. “I was able to meet many people with different backgrounds and I valued that,” said Jill.

In Ray Jackson’s case, he knew when he was four years old that he wanted to be a dairy farmer.

“I decided that I should get a degree just so I had something to fall back on,” he said. He has spent the last 20 years in the cattle breeding and artificial insemination (AI) industry and today he continues to do what he loves.

Colleen Jackson was the first in her family to go to college and she still uses the skills and experiences she learned at Ohio State to run their dairy operation and creamery business.

Mike, Jill, Ray and Colleen boldly began the Buckeye tradition that stands two generations strong in both of their families.


Ray and Colleen’s daughter, Ella, decided to follow in her parents’ footsteps and attend Ohio State to become a second-generation Buckeye.

“For as long as I can remember, what I wanted to do was dairy farm. Mom and Dad definitely encouraged me that it would be a good idea to get a degree,” said Ella. “Ohio State pretty much was the natural choice.”

For Patrick and Mikal Nolan, organizations like 4-H and FFA played a major role in their decisions about their future.

“Both of our children were involved with 4-H and FFA. They began to meet people who were either at Ohio State or going to Ohio State, so that helped make the decision, as well,” said Jill.

The Nolan family also spent a lot of time on campus while their kids were growing up. These visits offered fun experiences for Patrick and Mikal and allowed them to become more familiar with Ohio State.

“I think what really persuaded them was when we took them to football games when they were eight or nine,” said Mike.


Attending Ohio State has benefited both the Nolan and Jackson families tremendously, each in their own way.

Ray and Ella gained a great deal of knowledge during their time with CFAES, which they now use to work together in bettering their business. Colleen noted the great networking they were exposed to as well.

“The connections that he [Ray] has made when he was in college have just been far-reaching,” Colleen said.

Recently, the family has taken on a new endeavor: the creation of Indian Creek Creamery. They have built this business from the ground up and are anxious to see where it takes them.

The Jackson family has shown their success over the years with their dairy farm and creamery business. Earning degrees from Ohio State has provided them with knowledge, skills and confidence to own their own business.

Similarly, the Nolans have had a great amount of success in their careers. They have found themselves connected to Ohio State throughout the years and remain big supporters. They sponsor an international studies scholarship through CFAES, called the Mike and Jill Eversole Nolan Family Study Abroad Scholarship, to give back to a program that has made such a great impact on all four of them. Mike noted how Ohio State has benefitted him and his family during their time on campus: “You will have all the basics to be successful in life and that’s what I think Ohio State has always focused on.”

Jill applauded CFAES for the continued support of its students. “The faculty and staff know the students, and in many cases know their family, so they are very committed in making sure students are successful,” she said.

There’s more to being a Buckeye than just graduating with a degree from The Ohio State University. It’s the experiences you gain, the culture you adopt and the tradition you share with fellow students, faculty and alumni. Some Buckeyes are even lucky enough to share this experience with relatives who came before them. If Hank Williams Jr. sang it, then it must be true, because Ohio State is a “family tradition!”

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