Alumni Spotlight - May 2023
Luke Ovgard '13
To say Luke Ovgard is a hard-working and inspirational individual is an understatement. His multiple careers and passions have led to great success, and we are happy to share his story. Luke grew up in Klamath Falls and attended Triad for much of his time in school. In high school, attending a small school allowed Luke to be involved in many ways including choir, band, clubs, student government, volunteer work, and five sports. Family obligations kept him in Klamath Falls when it came time to select a college, and Oregon Tech became his higher education destination.
During his time at Oregon Tech, Luke stayed active in intramural sports, campus activities, and student government. By the time he was a senior, Luke served as the President of ASOIT and credits Dr. Erin Foley for mentoring him both as a student and young adult. Luke began as an environmental studies major with a desire to work as a fisheries biologist, but with limited career prospects in that field, he changed his major to business. He began as an Operations Management major and later added a Marketing concentration as well.
Luke always had side businesses while in college, including buying and flipping cars, and selling items on eBay, such as vintage video games and fishing gear, to fund his love of travel. After graduating in 2013, Luke worked as an Admissions Manager for Klamath Community College. While giving a speech to local educators about the value of dual credit work, he was offered a position teaching middle school English. He earned his Master of Arts in Teaching from Southern Oregon University and was later offered a job teaching business classes at Henley High School. He has been at Henley for the past six years, where he helped build the Jump into Business program in partnership with some of his former Oregon Tech professors, including Sandra Bailey and Hallie Neupert. This program allows high school students to earn college credit through the university’s business curriculum.
While teaching, Luke also officially launched his career as a writer shortly after graduating from Oregon Tech. He began writing for the Herald & News in Klamath Falls, which led to regional syndication in a few newspapers, and eventually writing for magazines. The writing was a successful venture for Luke until the journalism industry was hit hard during the Covid-19 pandemic, and nearly one-third of all newspaper jobs disappeared.
Needing to pivot, Luke decided to write a book instead—this passion project connected to another business, his website: Caught Ovgard. Caught Ovgard gives Luke a platform to tell stories about fishing for people who don’t necessarily fish, infused with humor. He explains, “I try to write with a sense of broad appeal that’s entertaining, relatable, kind of funny often at my own expense, and tell a story about the essential human experiences as told through the lens of someone who likes to go around and catch fish.” That is what Luke’s brand is about, catching people off guard and making them realize they can find his writing entertaining even without any interest in fishing. With an intent to entertain people and teach them something along the way, Luke’s website is a welcome reprise to a hectic day. Luke’s book, which just recently launched, is called Fishing Across America and is available on Amazon. The book describes the author’s goal to get out of the town he lived in his entire 32 years by going on an epic road trip with amazing adventures and gaining a new perspective on life (and, of course, catching some fish along the way). Congratulations to Luke for having his book ranked in the top 10 fishing books in Amazon’s fishing and regional travel new releases sections!
It’s clear that Luke Ovgard is a talented and prolific writer, but his business savvy does not end there. Luke also started working in real estate during the pandemic and continues to own and operate several rental properties in Klamath Falls. He explains that the real estate work pays the way for him to enjoy his passion for fishing and travel.
If all this wasn’t enough, Luke also works as a medical admin officer one weekend per month for the Air National Guard. He loves his time serving, which has allowed him to travel and enjoy some of the best road trips of his life while in military training. He is also grateful for the opportunity to meet new people and try new things in an entirely different industry. Luke encourages fellow Oregon Tech students to enlist to help get college paid for while also giving back to their community and country, just as Professor (and Lt. Col. Retired) Stephen Schultz did for him.
Luke initially made his college and career decisions based on what was practical and financially wise. He admits that it took him a few years to appreciate Oregon Tech for the gem it is. His advice for current or prospective students is to “make a choice based on what you feel is the right choice; at the end of the day, if kids don’t have a passion for what they’re studying, for where they’re going to school, for the place they live, it’s going to be hard and feel like they’re just going through the motions.” He adds, “Choose what you will be happy doing, and it will set the tone for the rest of your career.”
Luke Ovgard is a dedicated educator, business owner, writer, and Air Force Captain with many accolades. In 2022, he set the all-time Fishing Big Year record by catching 416 species of fish in that year. He was also the subject of a fishing documentary by Nick Mitchell Productions which can be viewed here. What’s next for Luke? There are more countries to visit, more travel adventures, more students to teach, more fish to be caught, and more stories to be written. Luke sends a shout-out to his parents, who still reside in Klamath Falls, his brother Jake, a fellow alum of Oregon Tech, his brother Gabe (who attended Oregon State), his sister-in-law, Rylee, and his nephew, Brave. Looking forward to seeing what Luke decides to do next! The sky’s the limit for this Oregon Tech Owl!
~Becky Burkeen, Director of Alumni Relations