Hilliard Gibbs, Jr., Haywood Community College 1969 Forestry graduate, was selected as Outstanding Alumni Recipient for 2011 for the college. The Opelika, Alabama resident was selected because of his commitment to his profession and his dedicated service to his community. Gibbs has worked for the United States Forest Service for over 40 years. As a general physical scientist, he works on management and restoration of long leaf pine.

“Of all the awards and recognitions that I have received over the years of my life, I value this award to be the utmost important, graciously humbling and rewarding, and surely a blessing,” Gibbs stated during one of HCC’s 2011 graduation ceremonies. “As a young student, you initially wonder if you made the right choice in your selection of a college. After working for nearly 42 years in research and development, the most important fact that I know is HCC prepared me for whatever I would encounter in forest management work.”

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.

Gibbs has received numerous awards. In 1982, Gibbs received the United States Department of Agriculture Superior Service Award as a Physical Science Technician. In 1985, he received the Southern Research Station Support Technician of the Year Award. From 1985 through 1987, he received several awards for Exceptional Performance as a Physical Science Technician. In 1996-1997, he received the US Forest Service Southern Research Station Multi-Culture Award for Civil Rights. In 1998, he received the US Forest Service Support Scientist of the Year Award. In 1998 and 2010, Gibbs received the US Forest Service Southern Research Station Director’s Support Scientist of the Year Award for exceptional performance.

Last year, Gibbs was inducted into the Boy Scouts of America's National Hall of Leadership. He has volunteered with Boy Scouts for over 30 years. In addition, he was selected to represent the Southern Region of the Boy Scouts of America. The Southern Region, one of four, represents 93 councils in 13 states and serves more than 1,000,000 youth. In 1986, Gibbs was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America for Outstanding Leadership as a Scoutmaster with Troop 102, Central Georgia Council. 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.

Gibbs was presented the 2010 Devoted Community Service Award from Community Missionary Baptist Church in Opelika, Alabama in recognition of his service to the community.

“The solid foundation I received at HCC has stood the test of time,” Gibbs said. “On behalf of my graduating class, I want to thank the faculty and staff for first valuing us as students and preparing us for our careers. HCC you have exercised the power to change the world through your students and graduates. You continue to inspire those students to reach their highest potential in career and service to community. I salute you HCC for continuing a legacy of providing a quality education. I will forever cherish your recognition as the recipient of the 2011 outstanding alumni award.”

In addition to being recognized at one of the college’s graduation ceremonies, a reception was held at HCC in honor of Gibbs.