From football to the forest

By Nathan Ham

July 15, 2013

Growing up in places like Ashe County, people tend to appreciate the great outdoors more than others that grew up far away from here.

For Josh Clawson, being outside has been in his blood even before his high school football playing days at Ashe County High School. Now, his outdoor passion has become a career.

Clawson played football for the Huskies from 2000-01 through 2003-04 under head coach Dale Galloway where he was part of the best group of offensive linemen that the school has ever had.

“I loved playing at night in high school and knowing my senior year that our line was so good that we could run the ball and gain yards each time,” said Clawson.

After his high school career, Clawson headed to Emory & Henry where he started 35 games at right guard and center. A knee injury forced him to sit out the last six games of his junior season.

Clawson went through one coaching change at Emory & Henry. Lou Wacker took over at E&H in 1982 and coached Clawson during his freshman season. Wacker then retired and handed the reigns of the program over to Don Montgomery.

Clawson’s best season at Emory & Henry was in 2006 when the Wasps won six games which included a run of four wins in the last five games to close out the year.

One of Clawson’s best memories during his college career was being the strongest member of the team for all four seasons.

“Out of three lifts, the bench, squat and power clean, it totaled 1,200 pounds. It was something I’m real proud of,” said Clawson.

Before graduating in 2008, Clawson had explored outdoor working opportunities and decided it was something he wanted to do for a career.

“Some of the classes I took in college got me thinking about being either a land surveyor or something in forestry or park management,” said Clawson. “I also worked seasonally at New River and Mt. Jefferson State Park during the summer, which made me decide to pursue becoming a state ranger.”

Clawson initially took a full-time job at Crowders Mountain State Park in Gastonia in May of 2009. He stayed there until this past December, when a job opened up at Pilot Mountain State Park in Surry County, where he is currently employed.

At Pilot Mountain, Clawson serves as a law enforcement officer for the park. He also has several other responsibilities which include being a wild land firefighter, search and rescue technician, first responder and a certified N.C. Environmental Educator.

While Clawson enjoys his job with a true passion, Ashe will always be home.

“I want to be able to transfer back to a state park near Ashe County and be able to volunteer as a coach for football and wrestling at the high school. I want to retire in Ashe County,” said Clawson.