Alumni Feature: Greg Hoffman 1986
Greg Hoffman 1986 always had an interest in conservation and natural resources. He grew up in southwest Minnesota and heard incredible remarks about the University of Minnesota Crookston from a high school friend. After learning about the two-year associate in applied science degree with an emphasis on natural resources, Hoffman was intrigued enough to make a visit to campus. During that visit, Hoffman met his immediate mentor and lifelong friend, Professor Emeritus Dan Svedarsky. This meeting is now marked as the beginning of Hoffman’s career and life in natural resources conservation, and was the first of many meaningful and transformative conversations with Svedarsky.
As a freshman, being away from family and tackling college courses was an intimidating challenge. Hoffman was overwhelmed at the time and wanted to quit, as he recalls telling Svedarsky, who talked him through it and ultimately wouldn’t let him give up. He is forever thankful for this guidance and believes students need people like that to get them through a post-secondary course load.
“It remains the perfect place to have started my professional journey for academic, professional, and personal reasons, and I am proud and grateful to be a Trojan.”
A fond memory Hoffman has includes the 1986 Trojan baseball team. He wants to give a big shout out to all those who knew him as “Flash” back in the day. Specifically, he remembers Rodney Cloose, a walk-on for the baseball team. Although Cloose hit Hoffman straight in the head with a baseball, the whole team admired his work ethic. The team collectively convinced their coach to let Cloose on the team, eventually voting him MVP.
Throughout Hoffman’s time at UMN Crookston he was actively preparing for his future through numerous internships, volunteer work, and temp positions. Although a competitive industry, wildlife and fishery careers doesn’t bring in a lot of money, which Hoffman understood. He heard his calling and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. In addition to his degree in natural resources conservation from UMN Crookston in 1986, Hoffman earned his bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries from South Dakota State University and earned his master’s degree in fishery biology from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.
From the classroom to the field, Hoffman moved to Montana and began working as a fisheries technician for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. He is still in the area and has been working in the Kootenai River Valley as a fishery biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Libby Dam. For the past 18 years he has been working with other biologists and water managers toward recovery of endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon. Their work was highlighted in a PBS documentary, “A Fish Between the Falls”.
In addition to the sturgeon keeping Hoffman captivated with the Kootenai area, there is a little place called Turner Mountain where he has been skiing ever since he moved there in 1996. Someone he worked with told him about this hidden gem, and better yet, offered him a free pass if he helped cut down brush in the fall. The resort has one ski lift and operates based on the tight-knit group of skiers and snowboarders who donate their time and labor. Everybody knows each other there, like one big family, which parallels Hoffman’s experience at UMN Crookston.
Hoffman attended the Virtual Alumni Social in November and described seeing Svedarsky, the event's featured speaker, as if nothing had changed and a day hadn’t passed. He was sitting at home, and through Hoffman’s computer screen, looked just like he did as he sat at his desk in 1984. Looking back, his choice to attend UMN Crookston seems as natural today as it did back then. “It remains the perfect place to have started my professional journey for academic, professional, and personal reasons, and I am proud and grateful to be a Trojan,” stated Hoffman.
Written for the Winter 2021 Torchlight e-Newsletter.