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POCATELLO — A group of Idaho State University nursing students was recently awarded scholarships from a local non-profit organization that traded in scrap metal from the Pocatello Idaho Temple construction site to help pay for them.

The scholarships totaling $16,000 came from the John William Jackson Fund, named after and established in memory of founder Bill “Action” Jackson’s son, who died in a climbing accident.

Jackson, a construction worker by trade and a self-described “mom-and-pop philanthropist,” has been seeking out and accepting donated leftover materials from construction sites for years so he can trade them in for money to go toward scholarships. Jackson’s son John was an academic who would have appreciated his family’s contributions to students’ higher education.

Since its inception in the early 2000s, the fund has awarded $1.4 million to projects and programs benefiting youth. Among its most recent recipients are eight ISU nursing students — four in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at ISU’s Meridian campus and four in the traditional BSN program in Pocatello.

The students, chosen by their respective programs, received $2,000 each as part of the Northwest Health Science Scholarship Initiative-John William Jackson Fund Award. This year’s recipients were Adam Reed, Brandon Oram, Maura Merrill, Hallee Hitt, Anna Grace Blomquist, Tess Wolfenson, Pearl Woo and Hunter Hill.

Jackson said he couldn’t confirm the exact amount of money that the Pocatello Idaho Temple’s scrap metal contributed to these particular scholarships because his small operation has given out “tons” of scholarships and didn’t track that information.

Though he said all of the scholarships his fund has awarded over the past couple of decades have been 80% funded by scrap metal trade-ins. The other 20% typically comes from donations to the fund or out of his family’s own pocket.

Jackson has used scrap metal from dozens of construction projects over the years to help pay for scholarships, including other temples in Idaho and multiple local Idaho Central Credit Union projects.

He called his scrap metal modus operandi a “win-win situation” for his organization, student scholarship recipients and the “good environmental stewards” on construction projects who work to make sure scrap metal doesn’t end up in a landfill.

Jackson said his son would be “quite pleased” to know what he and John’s mother, Jackie Jackson, have accomplished together with the John William Jackson Fund. In the fund’s first year of awarding grants, a total of $2,640 was awarded.

Jackson was proud of that grant, and he and Jackie thought it was a lot of money at the time, he said. But now, the fund has grown and given out more than $100,000 to students in various fields of study at schools across Idaho every year for the past decade.

The Jacksons hope to continue their fundraising and granting efforts to help students pay for their education and keep their son’s memory alive.