Karl's Story

We all have had those individuals and times in our lives that have helped define who we are and what we are.

One of those bookmarks in life can be graduation from college, possibly Hocking College. While completing that journey was important and marks a goal achieved, do you remember filling out the application and the anxiety of waiting to see if "You're In." Did you ever wonder what you would be doing or who would you be if "it weren't for Hocking?" I do quite often.

I attended a small high school in rural Mahoning County, Springfield Local. While I could probably have been considered one of the popular kids; sports, student council president, etc, and a "pleasure to have in class,"  I approached academics with an attitude of "anything greater than a C was wasted effort." Hard to imagine that the college scholarship offers didn't come rolling in. A former guidance counselor even suggested that I consider a career in the Youngstown steel-mills because I wasn't "college material." While I would like to think she was using a reverse psychology ploy to motivate me - I'm sure it was a literal and mostly accurate suggestion.

A new guidance counselor, Fred Muder, called me into his office one day, usually the discussion was about cars, but this time he handed me a Golden-rod colored, mimeographed brochure from Tri-County Technical College (now Hocking College) and said I should "check it out." Upon reading the list of technologies, Recreation and Wildlife caught my eye. I always loved the out of doors, hunting and fishing, just hanging out in the woods. With the support of my family and the new guidance counselor I applied and soon received my "You're In" letter, I cried. When I graduated high school in 1970 I knew was going to college, studying something I really wanted to study and it would only take two years. I graduated from Hocking Technical College in 1972, received an Outstanding Student Award and the day after graduation went off to Naturalist training for the Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). If it weren't for Hocking.

I have had a great life journey and career primarily related to natural resources. I went on to earn a B.S. in Business Administration and M.A in Public Policy and Management. My career started at ODNR, I worked at the Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Farm Bureau. I owned my own natural resources consulting and lobbying business for 15 years. I was then asked to return to ODNR as Chief of Soil and Water Resources and later as Deputy Director. I am now at OEPA as Chief of Surface Water and Deputy Director for Water Resources in Ohio. If it weren't for Hocking.

All of the instructors I had while at Hocking are gone as are the administrators. I attended classes, when we were in a class room, in what is now the vocational school. While the buildings and people of the school have changed, Hocking is bigger than any person, or building. Hocking College was my "door-way" to a future I had no idea existed. As a proud alumnus I have an obligation to now help ensure that others can have their opportunity because of Hocking College.

I try to attend events, financially support the college, the student emergency fund and the Alumni Association as best as I can. I have nudged many kids and adults to "check it out," I know many have.

So what's your story? We all have them. How do you finish the statement "If it weren't for Hocking...?" At some point in your life and for some reason you filled out the enrollment application and anxiously awaited the reply. How did you feel that moment when you knew the door was open and "You're In?" It's now our obligation to ensure others can experience that excitement and have experiences they aren't even aware of exist. If it weren't for Hocking

- Karl Gebhardt '72

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