University of Montevallo senior Ethan Honaker has traveled all over the country to pursue his passion of working outdoors, all thanks to the President’s Outdoor Scholars Program. 

The program is a unique opportunity for college students interested in the outdoors to obtain a degree while learning about and working with the outdoor industry. As part of the program, students can be members of the archery and fishing teams. 

Honaker grew up in Pike Road, Alabama, where he made some of his fondest memories of hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. 

“My dad had me out in the woods since before I can remember,” he says. “So I have always just had a passion and a love for it.” 

Although Honaker knew he wanted to pursue a career of working in the outdoor industry, he did not apply to college until May of his senior year after his guidance counselor reached out to him about the Outdoor Scholars Program. 

“It was right up my alley,” says Honaker. “I knew I wanted to do something in the film production side of hunting, so when I talked to Mr. William [Crawford], it was an easy yes.”

Ethan Honaker (right) on a hunting trip. Photo courtesy of Ethan Honaker.

William Crawford is the director of the Outdoor Scholars Program. He recruits students from all over the United States, not just the South. Some students have come from as far away as Minnesota, Arizona and Maryland to join the program. 

Since being in the program, Honaker has traveled all over the country on hunting explorations. Over the last four years, he has visited 12 states, including Texas, Florida and Montana. He even got to go to the Bahamas on a deep sea fishing trip. 

While traveling, he has competed in televised championships, turkey hunting competitions and hunted animals that are unique to different parts of the U.S. In addition to hunting, Honaker gets to work on his photography and videography skills on these trips.

Members of President’s Outdoor Scholars Program with Director, William Crawford. Photo courtesy of Ethan Honaker.

Although Honaker has traveled all over the U.S., he says there is no place like Alabama to experience the outdoors. According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, the state is at the top of the list for biodiversity. It has white sand beaches, a wide variety of rivers and lakes, and is home to the southern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. 

Honaker not only enjoys the outdoors recreationally, he is passionate about the role that hunting and fishing plays in the sustaining the environment.  

“The importance of being involved with the outdoors is preservation, conservation and keeping everything in line,” says Honaker. “We were put here to be the land keepers of God’s creation.” 

His plans for after graduation are to work with an outdoor media company. With the opportunities he has had over the last four years through the program and with being a Mass Communication major, Honaker is confident about career prospects after earning his degree. 

“The Outdoor Scholars Program has put me in front of a lot of different opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I have gotten to shake some hands of people that everyone should get to know.”

The President’s Outdoor Scholars Program was founded in 2015 by UM President John W. Stewart III. The program puts an emphasis on giving students hands-on experience with careers in the outdoors. There are currently 102 students in the program. Photo courtesy of Ethan Honaker.

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