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November 29--  For a student whom teachers describe as intelligent and bound for success, Travis Hudson had a unique reaction to his first two quarters at Southeastern Technical College.

 “I wanted to quit so bad I couldn’t stand it,” said Hudson.{mosimage}

 But then, Hudson is himself a unique story.

The 22-year-old from Wrightsville was a champion turkey caller on the national stage when he was in his early teens, acquiring the skill through a combination of careful observation and complete boredom.

“My daddy, when I was about 8, had bought a bunch of turkeys,” said Hudson. “I’d go out and sit with the turkeys because I had nothing else to do. So, I learned how turkeys behave and how to turkey call that way, from just sitting and watching.”

All that sitting and watching paid off when, at 13, Hudson won a turkey calling contest his high school held and was approached by a representative of the National Wild Turkey Federation. He joined their youth division and, soon after, took first place in a statewide competition and second at nationals. Hudson doesn’t compete anymore, but he has called for professionals from Primos and Team Realtree.

Hudson entered his senior year of high school in 2007 and had to figure out what came next. He mulled over a number of possibilities, many of which involved higher education. These options, though attractive, presented a challenge for Hudson.

“In high school and my early college years, I had really bad ADD and ADHD,” said Hudson. “People that know that and know me, when I tell them I’m a deer hunter, they don’t see how I can sit in a deer stand for so long. But, it’s just peaceful when I’m out there by myself. It calms me down. And Miss Jill knew exactly what to do with that.”

Miss Jill is Jill Lehman, instructor for the Fish and Wildlife Management program at Southeastern Tech. She was one of the main motivators for Hudson’s enrollment at STC.

“Travis is an awesome little fellow,” said Lehman. “He’s a very intelligent boy. But, you’ve got to learn how he learns, and then you can teach him.

 “It didn’t take long to realize that confining him in a classroom just was not working. I found myself having to go over stuff more and more so he could grasp it. But when we would go outside, he was different. If I took the class outside, he’d do so much better. So, that’s what I did.”

Though the early goings remained difficult, getting more and more hands-on in Lehman’s class showed promise for Hudson. He still had trouble from time to time, but the outdoors work calmed and focused him just the way deer hunting did.

“Once I started, I struggled for a little while, my first two quarters probably,” said Hudson. “I wanted to quit so bad I couldn’t stand it. But, I thought about it, realized you can’t really get anywhere without going to college, and so I decided to try harder. And sure enough, this year I’ll be through with my associate’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Management.”

Hudson’s hard work has already paid off beyond college. Hudson discovered a job opening at Magnolia Springs State Park in Millen, pursued it, and is now on track to become the park’s next assistant manager.

“I’m just so excited for him,” said Lehman. “That boy has had to work through some struggles, and he’s just not going to be defeated.”