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Auburn University urban forestry experts appointed to National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council

Michelle Cole, an urban forestry expert and academic administrator in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE) at Auburn University and Beau Brodbeck, assistant director of field operations for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System have been appointed to the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. 

Operating under the direction of Congress, the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council oversees the Forest Service’s National Urban and Community Forestry Program. The council provides urban natural resource recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture and other related federal agencies. 

Established in 1990, the council serves the American people by fostering the growth and management of urban and community forests. Comprising professionals, academics, citizens and government volunteers, the group aims to improve local communities’ health and well-being. 

As part of its responsibilities, the council formulates grant categories for the Urban and Community Forestry grant program, aligning them with the action plan’s seven goals. Additionally, they recommend grant proposals to the Forest Service for funding consideration. 

“I have always wanted to be able to share my urban forestry knowledge and perspective to help others on the local, regional and national levels. I am so excited that I am on the council now and will be able to leave a mark in the urban forestry field that I love so much,” said Cole. 

Michelle Cole, urban forestry expert and academic administrator in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment.Michelle Cole, urban forestry expert and academic administrator in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment.

Cole, an alumna of Alabama A&M University with a background in forest management and a graduate of Auburn University with a master’s in adult education, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the council. At the CFWE, she serves as an academic administrator, providing guidance to forestry and natural resource majors. Additionally, Cole advises Auburn’s Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) chapter.  

Cole’s role on the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council exemplifies the importance of civic engagement for CFWE students at Auburn University. Her leadership underscores the transformative impact that active civic participation can have on shaping the future of environmental and forestry initiatives, inspiring students to influence positive change within their communities and fields of study.  

Alongside Cole, Brodbeck was selected to serve on the council as the USDA Extension Service representative. His areas of expertise include the care and management of trees in urban landscapes, researching human dimensions of urban forest management and evaluating circular labor migration programs. Brodbeck holds a doctorate from Auburn University and is also an Alabama Registered Forester.  

Beau Brodbeck, Assistant Director of Field Operations for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.Beau Brodbeck, assistant director of field operations for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. 

“Michelle and Beau are both passionate urban forestry stewards and we take great pride in their appointment to this esteemed national advisory committee,” said Janaki Alavalapati, the Emmett F. Thompson Dean of the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment. “Their dedication and expertise will undoubtedly contribute significantly to the council’s mission, reflecting the caliber of professionals we foster within our community.” 

Auburn University, renowned for its expertise in forestry, horticulture, landscape architecture, community planning and agriculture, provides a unique opportunity for urban forestry research and education. The CFWE’s urban forestry minor equips students to experience the distinctive challenges of managing natural resources in urban environments, covering skills such as storm flow analysis, tree planting and care, grant proposals and municipal employee supervision.

(Written by Allison Killingsworth)

Interested in studying Urban Forestry? Explore your options at the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment

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