Remembering Jackson Phillip

January 5, 2022

Jackson Phillip, long-time Western SARE PDP State Coordinator from Micronesia, passed away in September 2021. In his capacity of ANR Program Coordinator at the College of Micronesia, FSM, Jackson fulfilled his State Coordinator role since the very beginning of the Professional Development Program. That was in 1994 and former Associate PDP Coordinator Al Kurki remembers meeting Jackson at the first ever regional PDP meeting held at Snowbird in Utah.

Given his many years with Western SARE and his well-respected manner in which he collaborated with colleagues, warm memories are plentiful. Here are a few memories from Western SARE.

Stephanie Walker, New Mexico co-PDP State Coordinator

I’ve known Jackson Phillip since I first took the reins of PDP State Coordinator for New Mexico in 2004. Despite the enormous travel distance from Pohnpei, he rarely missed our yearly meetings on the mainland. Jackson was always a calm and composed presence at these events. He was truly a kind and generous soul. He expressed deep gratitude for the New Mexico chile roasting and tasting demonstration provided to the PDP participants at the New Mexico agricultural tours and would bring up to me years afterward how much he enjoyed the entire New Mexico visit. Years later, when Western SARE traveled to his home domain, he reached out to me to make sure that I brought Bitter Melon seed to share with his clientele. Thank goodness he did; it was not originally among the crops planned for seed donation. I brought as many varieties as I could track down. Jackson was correct. The Bitter Melon was a hit! I will greatly miss Jackson.

Jim Freeburn, former PDP Regional Coordinator

Jackson Phillip was a man of great character. I’ve never been treated better by anyone in my life. During the times I was on Pohnpei, Jackson treated me like I was some sort of royalty. His kindness and caring attitude will never be forgotten. He was also a champion for sustainable agriculture in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Western Pacific. He was always helpful and a willing participant in our SARE events and activities. His kindness and leadership will be sorely missed by many. It was my honor to know him and work with him. 

Bob Barber, Guam PDP State Coordinator

Over the years Jackson was an important cultural informant for me. Jackson and I were still relatively new to Western SARE when we attended a meeting in Nevada together. As Vice Chair, I was asked to chair the meeting at the last minute. During one of the longer sessions, we had an open, and what I thought at the time, dynamic discussion on priorities and needs of our states/territories. Later in the evening Jackson was mad at me. 

He told me that he felt that I didn't do my job as chair correctly, as I didn't give him a chance to speak. This surprised me. I mentioned that everyone around the table was speaking up, and I thought if he had wanted to speak up, he would have. He told me no, and from his explanation I learned of the need for structured turn-taking and formal recognition for participants speaking from the Islands. He explained that I should have gone around the table and asked one by one each person their thoughts on the matter before concluding the discussion. From his perspective and culture, because I didn't ask as chair for his thoughts formally, I didn't give him a turn. We in our assertive, individualistic U.S. culture never question our right to speak up in meetings of our peers and administers. But those in the Islands from communal speak when authorized by the peer group or authority or it is their formal turn. For me, it was like a whole different world opened up. This conversation led to the topic of my Dissertation (Adult Micronesian Perceptions of U.S. College Classroom Environments) and changed how I conduct meetings with my Islander peers.

Related Locations: Micronesia, West