By Megan K. Olsen Herald Staff Writer [originally published in the Durango Herald Friday, Dec 30, 2022. Select portions reprinted by permission of the Herald]
Danny Jaques is a space nerd.
It’s a character trait he has embraced since childhood. He’s been fascinated, some would say obsessed, with astronomy and all things space-related since he watched the Mercury-Atlas 9 launch into space on the television with his father, the last of the Mercury crewed space missions.
Dr. Danny Jacques [Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file]
“I was that little kid back in 1963 asking my dad to get me up and watch the launch on black and white TV,” Jaques said, “I wanted to be an astronaut, but I grew up on a farm in Ignacio. My dad had two strong boys: me and my brother, to work the farm. I knew Johnson Space Center was down there (in Houston), but I didn’t know if I could get there.”
Though Jaques kept his sights set on the stars, he eventually attended Fort Lewis College on a full scholarship, where he earned degrees in three different fields.
“I graduated Fort Lewis with an associate’s in agriculture and a B.S. in biology,” he said. “And I have a doctorate in education, too.” (from Fielding Graduate University, Ed.D. Leadership for Change)
Jaques began teaching science at Ignacio Middle School and was eventually selected to tour the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He was so impressed with the programs, facilities and people, he decided Ignacio students should have the opportunity to visit.