Involvement within the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences student organizations provides opportunity for students to exercise leadership skills, build relationships with their classmates, and foster community between students and professionals in the varying occupations associated with forestry, wildlife and natural resources. In her own words, learn how participation in student clubs has positively impacted Amanda Wenzel’s experience at Auburn and her career potential after graduation:
Major: Natural Resources Management
Expected Graduation: Fall 2020
Involvement: Secretary of the Society for Natural Resources
What led you to choose this major?
I was introduced to the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences through the Exploratory major’s Career Discovery Workshops. I knew that I wanted to go into working with the environment but wasn’t sure what career path would suit me best. The most helpful factor in deciding what to study was the Introduction to Renewable Natural Resources course taught by Professor Art Chappelka where I learned of the varying fields within Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. I chose to major in natural resources management because I felt that it was a balance between the social and scientific aspects that aligned with my academic strengths.
Why did you choose Auburn?
I’m from Texas so it wasn’t really on my radar until my friend convinced me to apply when she decided to attend Auburn. When we visited, I found that I loved the size of the university and all of its traditions; I just fell in love with the campus and how everyone was so welcoming. From that visit, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the Auburn Family.
What is your favorite part about being a student in the school?
My favorite part is that the smaller size of the school allows you to easily make connections with your classmates and find that sense of community.
Describe a class that you have taken as part of your major that has left an impact on you.
So many of them have stuck with me but I’m really enjoying the conservation planning class that I’m currently taking that is taught by Assistant Professor Kelly Dunning. She’s a new faculty member so I believe that it is the first class she has taught at Auburn and she has been amazing. The class has shown me how the biology, chemistry and ecology knowledge that we learn within natural resources management applies to the social aspects of the field.
What opportunities within the school have helped insure your academic success?
The Society for Natural Resources has encouraged me to get more involved with the school and foster relationships with professors and students of my major. For example, the society’s faculty advisor Associate Professor Chris Anderson encouraged me to apply to the Forest, Environment and Wildlife Leadership, or FEWL, Academy. Through that opportunity I have learned that there are many types of leaders and that I don’t have to fit into a specific mold in order to lead.
If you are involved in a student organization within the school, describe the group’s purpose and why being a member is important to you.
I am the current secretary of the Society of Natural Resources and I think it is important for students of the natural resources management major to join, both to have that community of like-minded individuals and to represent our major within the school.
What are you doing as a student that is giving you added experience in your desired field?
I am a volunteer with the Alabama Water Watch through the Society for Natural Resources and with that we have gotten to conduct chemical and bacterial monitoring tests in the Tuskegee National Forest. I’ve really enjoyed that because it has taught me a new skill that I can apply to my career and add to my resume because the results of our work are actually being studied and applied within our community.
What are your plans after graduation?
I would like to work in the Texas State Parks network or other governmental organizations because of the varying positions available and the great benefits of working for the government. I do eventually want to earn my master’s degree in natural resources management and will be deciding whether or not I go to graduate school very soon. At this point, I am unsure whether or not I would enjoy joining the workforce before going back to school.
What are you passionate about and how has the school allowed you to pursue those passions?
I am passionate about conservation of the environment and the conveyance of those values to the average person who is unaware of the importance of ecosystem services and all of the economic, physical and social benefits of caring for our environment. The ability to communicate those concepts to the public, and the scientific knowledge that gives one the authority to do so, are specifically focused on in our curriculum so that students are confident in explaining their passion for the responsible management of natural resources.
What advice would you give to upcoming freshman?
I would say to make friends with your classmates and communicate with your professors, so you can find that sense of community early on because those connections will support you throughout your academic career. Get involved with organizations within the school and campus-wide organizations so that you can broaden your opportunities and sharpen your networking skills.
Interview is lightly edited for clarity.
(Written by Avanelle Elmore)