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Out of the park and into the woods

Ecampus fisheries and wildlife sciences alum Evan Huegel was hired as a law enforcement officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources after graduating from Oregon State, and he couldn’t be happier. “Every day I am excited to go to work and can’t wait for what I may experience next, because it can be anything day to day,” he says.

By Jenna Jarvis
June 28, 2018

Finding your dream job feels like hitting a home run. But if you keep waiting for that perfect pitch, you might miss out on unexpected opportunities.

Evan Huegel wanted nothing else but to play professional baseball, but when he realized that might not be feasible, he had to get real about what his next step would be after high school.

He joined the United States Navy and quickly discovered that the military experience he never saw coming would lead him down a new path in life.

Petty Officer 1st Class Evan Huegel joined the Navy in 2007 as an operations specialist on a guided-missile destroyer, USS The Sullivans (DDG-68), before quickly moving up in the ranks.

While he did get to fulfill his passion for baseball by playing on the All-Navy Men’s Softball team in 2012, he also expanded his options much further, including serving as an operations specialist, a search and rescue swimmer, an instructor for search and rescue swimmer school, and then a certified personal trainer. These were not jobs he envisioned having back in high school, but he always kept an open mind.

“Like any opportunity or job in the Navy, nothing lasts forever. My only option after those three years was going back to a ship or deploying for a year. Nothing seemed too appealing and now having a family, I didn’t want to be gone from home for such extended periods of time. I thought about what else could make me happy,” he says.

Aside from sports, Evan’s other passion was exploring the great outdoors. He grew up in Tarpon Springs, Florida, on a 10,000-acre preserve his dad managed.

When he started job hunting after the Navy, he set his sights on becoming a game warden. The only obstacle in his way was finding a school where he could earn an appropriate degree for this field while he was still active duty military.

Evan chose Oregon State University because of the national prestige of its online fisheries and wildlife sciences bachelor’s degree program.

“Getting my degree was by no means ‘easy,’ as it shouldn’t be. However, going to Oregon State made it an enjoyable and academically challenging experience. After graduating, it is safe to say I was fully prepared to take on whatever the real world had to throw at me.”

And even though he was learning from a distance through Oregon State Ecampus, Evan says he received a high level of engagement and personal interaction.

As an avid outdoorsman his whole life, Evan was drawn to Oregon State’s fisheries and wildlife sciences program online.

“Getting my degree was by no means ‘easy,’ as it shouldn’t be,” Evan says. “However, going to Oregon State made it an enjoyable and academically challenging experience. After graduating, it is safe to say I was fully prepared to take on whatever the real world had to throw at me.”

Evan’s experience with Ecampus opened the door to his first natural resources job with his local county park district. Oregon State’s fisheries and wildlife program requires two internships, and Evan’s full-time job with the county park district counted as one of them. He fulfilled his second internship by volunteering and teaching wildlife education at a camp for kids where he still helps out in the summer.

Two years after he was employed by the park district, Evan was hired as a law enforcement officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and he couldn’t be happier.

This is not the future Evan saw for himself in high school, but thanks to his open mind and enthusiasm for new adventures, he found a career where every day feels like he knocked the ball out of the park.

“Right now, I am 30 years old, I have over 11 years of U.S. naval service, and am now living my dream,” he says. “I have been with the department for about a year and a half now and there is no doubt that it will be a lifelong career. Every day I am excited to go to work and can’t wait for what I may experience next, because it can be anything day to day.

“I owe OSU many thanks for that.”

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