Hawkinson puts business degree to work as park ranger

Colby Hawkinson '94Some days, Colby Hawkinson’s office is a raft on the Rogue River. Other days, he attends to business on a rugged trail or busy campground.

Whatever his location, Hawkinson ’94, a park ranger with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on the Grants Pass Resource Area, is putting his Linfield College business degree to work.

“The best thing about my work is helping to manage resources that the public uses and loves,” said Hawkinson. “That frequently gets me outside to those beautiful places. I always wanted to do this type of work.”

While the job title “park ranger” might conjure up images of giving talks or leading hikes at a national park, Hawkinson’s job involves management of recreational resources. He is in charge of trail construction, trail maintenance, coordinating maintenance of recreation sites, tracking visitor use numbers for the trails and organizing volunteer groups such as youth groups from Josephine County Job Council and Northwest Youth Corps.  Hawkinson also manages a section of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, which includes patrolling the river in boats and rafts, helping float groups on the river and more.

Above all, his job is dynamic, and involves frequent re-balancing of priorities to adjust to changing conditions. For example, when wildfires closed sections of the Rogue River in 2013, Hawkinson had to reprioritize work on a daily basis to balance safety and environmental concerns.

Ultimately, the path that led Hawkinson to his current career started with a rafting trip led by Scott Chambers, former Linfield professor of finance.

“After graduation, I began working as a guide in Idaho where Scott and his wife Susan both used to work,” said Hawkinson, who also led trips in Alaska. “I have guided a number of trips that took the Linfield president and members of the faculty down the Grande Ronde River in northeast Oregon.”

Hawkinson believes his education, business degree and contacts from Linfield have helped him excel in his career.

“The most significant aspect of my job is that it involves managing people just as much as managing the resources they use,” he said. “Linfield and my business degree prepared me for this by helping me learn to balance operational level thinking with strategic level thinking. It also prepared me by helping me develop solid communication and organizational skills.


Colby Hawkinson '94