Meet Alumnus, Russell Turner ’22
Russell Turner, a 2022 forestry graduate, is a fiber supply associate for International Paper. He is a 2020 recipient of the Deborah Carter Scholarship funded by the Forest Landowner Foundation. Turner enjoys spending time outdoors and feels his experiences provide a renewed perspective on life. His favorite part of working in forestry is the comradery he feels with fellow foresters.
Why did you choose to attend Auburn?
It may be a cliché to say I chose Auburn due to its “family feel,” but both the community and the university embody that feeling. It’s rare to find a place like Auburn, and I’m forever grateful to have spent four years there.
What led you to choose forestry as your major?
I originally applied in political science, but a family friend who works in the industry convinced me to give forestry a shot because of the many different avenues that can lead to a successful career. When I arrived at campus on move-in day, I went to the college to change my major and have loved it ever since.
What is your favorite memory from your time at CFWE; was there a professor or faculty member that had a great influence/impact on you during your time in the college?
I spent lot of time with my classmates, and we really became like family, so I will always look back fondly on those relationships. As for professors, I spent a lot of my junior and senior years learning from and working with Dr. Tom Gallagher and Dr. Adam Maggard. Those guys really pushed me, taught me a lot about forestry and life, and encouraged me nonstop. Also, the administrative staff – Dr. Jodie Kenney, Mrs. Lisa Hollans, Mrs. Ginger Donaldson, Mrs. Michelle Cole, Mrs. Heather Crozier – did a great job of making student life very favorable for students there, and I’m thankful for their hard work and lasting impact.
How did CFWE prepare you for your career?
One aspect of the forestry curriculum that prepared me for the workforce is that the professors were not always “by the book.” They recognized that the industry is always changing, that there are other factors we will have to consider as our careers progress, and they were always willing to go the extra mile. They spoke from experience rather than just from a textbook, and they showed that they wanted the best for us in our futures. The Forestry Club was a good thing too because it allowed us to build connections with industry contacts and learn more about the companies we might want to work for.
What is your role at International Paper? What does your typical workday look like?
I’m a fiber supply associate, so my job is to ensure that the suppliers we work with are bringing wood to the mill as the supply chain allows. A typical day involves maintaining relationships with suppliers through face-to-face meetings or phone calls. Other than that, the day can vary based upon team meetings and needs as well as supplier needs. I try to be flexible because I know suppliers operate in various ways, so it’s mainly about making sure we have what we need to supply the mill.
Why is staying involved and in touch with CFWE valuable to you?
It’s valuable because it’s a great way to stay in touch with folks in the industry. There are a lot of Auburn CFWE grads that I don’t cross paths within my job, but anytime we’re involved in something regarding the college now, it’s great to see them, hear more about their current job/experiences, and have new experiences along the way.
What is your favorite thing about being an CFWE alum?
I enjoy the way that the CFWE is a connecting point when working in this industry. It’s often the first point of common ground you find when building new relationships.
Do you have any advice for students entering the work force right now?
Don’t shy away from taking on new challenges, whether that be a new location or a job that is outside of your comfort zone. Growth happens when we are challenged, so don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith as you start this new chapter of life.
Interview is lightly edited for clarity.
(Written by Avanelle Elmore)