Hertners create scholarship for Adams State biology majors


john and anita hertner on flag and fly

John and Anita on Flag and Fly.

After fifty years, Dr. John and Anita Hertner continue to fondly remember their educational experience at Adams State University. Recently the couple established the Dr. John F. & Anita A. Hertner Biology Scholarship Endowment so that others may benefit from their alma mater.

"Anita and I are most fortunate to have the resources that will enable us to endow the scholarship," John said. "The 'Adams Experience' happened for us at just the right time in our lives."

John '66, '70 received his bachelor's degree in biology, as well as a master's in biology education from Adams State. He later received his Ph.D. in biology with an emphasis on anatomy and physiology from the University of Northern Colorado. After completing her bachelor's degree in physical education/recreation, Anita '67 took some graduate level courses from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The couple said Adams State faculty definitely kept their academic experience stimulating and nurtured them, as well. "Dr. Veryl Keen (emeritus professor of biology) was a most patient man whose quiet assurance and enthusiasm for his discipline installed confidence in his students. Other faculty, whose names are now lost in my mind, still remain in memory as having been simultaneously demanding and supportive – an ideal combination." Dr. James Craft, emeritus professor of biology, "stood out" for John "with his black cigarette holder and his quick wit." And, he said Dr. Norman Peterson, emeritus professor of history, "brought a sense of life to her classes." Keen, Craft and Peterson are deceased.

Anita expresses the same sentiments. "I enjoyed my classes in PE and Recreation. The individual attention was supportive. My advisor was the iconic track coach, Dr. Joe Vigil '53,'59."

anita and john hertner

The Hertners say they learned "far beyond the usual expectations of the classroom or laboratory" from "approachable" Adams State faculty. "Elements of commitment to their profession and academic integrity were all part of our experiences," John added.

The two were students at Adams during the early years of their marriage, and the proximity of the San Luis Valley to mountain camping and Taos, NM, weekends were important contributors to their lives together. They belonged to the Rodeo Club. "Together on horseback, we explored eastern areas like the Sand Dunes and Mt. Blanca, and western sites like Wagon Wheel Gap and Wolf Creek. Those activities contributed to the success of our marriage which, in 2016, will have endured for 50 years," John said.

Non-resident biology majors are eligible for the Dr. John F. & Anita A. Hertner Biology Scholarship Endowment. "We both prospered in the supportive environment of Adams State," John said. "At the time of our initial collegiate experience, we were both non-resident students, and it is our intention to make it a bit easier for non-resident students to share in that supportive environment."

In 2011, John retired from the University of Nebraska at Kearney as chair of the Biology Department. During his professional career, he served as an official at UNK track meets, and appreciated seeing "Adams Athletes" at competitions. "Their presence reminded me of just how enthusiastic the Adams athletes were and how well they represented their school. Athletes from both Adams State and UNK are truly student-athletes in the best sense."

Currently, the Hertners live on a farm in Nebraska and stay active in many National Horseman organizations. They continue to enjoy outdoor activities, including hunting and fishing and traveling from "Alaska to Africa." They have one son, George L. Hertner, M.D., an emergency room physician in Colorado Springs.