When Hilliard Gibbs, Jr., HCC 1969 Forestry graduate was growing up in Haywood County, Boys Scouts played a huge role in shaping who he is now and the career path he would take. Now, he is being honored for his time and dedication to the organization.
Recently, Gibbs was among 300 Scouts from across the United States to be inducted into the Boy Scouts of America's National Hall of Leadership. In addition, he was selected from 7,000 nominations to represent the Southern Region of the Boy Scouts of America. The Southern Region, one of four, represents 93 councils in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia and serves more than 1,000,000 youth.
Gibbs, a resident of Opelika, Alabama, is a Scoutmaster for Troop 373 in the Saugahatchee District of the Chattahoochee Council in Columbus,GA. He was nominated by his daughter as the “Last Boy Scout” for his time and dedication to Scouting. He mentored his three sons through Scouts, motivated his daughter to be a den leader, and coached three African-American Scouts to achieve Eagle Scout rank – the first for his district.
“Growing up as an African-American, becoming an Eagle Scout was not available to me,” Gibbs explains. “That is one of the things that have driven me to work to provide these opportunities to everyone. I want young people to know that Scouting is important. It teaches them to become good leaders and good citizens of our country.”
Gibbs has also had a noteworthy year in his career. He has worked for the United States Forest Service for over 40 years and was recently selected as professional support scientist of the year for the Southern Research Station. As a general physical scientist, he works on management and restoration of long leaf pine.
Gibbs began working with the Forest Service right after graduating with HCC’s first Forestry class in the college’s history. He has worked in areas such as fire behavior, water quality, and smoke management. He also continued his education at Mercer University where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with a concentration in natural science and computer science.
“I just can’t say enough about the forestry program at HCC,” Gibbs explains. “It has given me many opportunities. I have worked side by side with graduates from 4-year schools and have never been ashamed of my degree. HCC has a very great name especially in Forestry.”