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FEWL Academy continues to shape future leaders with newest cohort

By April 15, 2021March 22nd, 2022No Comments

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences has fostered leadership opportunities for outstanding students through the Forest, Environment and Wildlife Leadership, or FEWL, Academy since its establishment in 2019.

For 2021, the program continues with 11 members hailing from six of the school’s majors. 

Current members of the FEWL Academy include Alex Booker, Emma Breda, Ashlyn Cowgill, Joseph Davis, Allie Foster, Bethany Foust, Madison McCown, Quinn Morrison, Brock Story, James Treadwell and Carlie Wilson.  

The purpose of the academy is to prepare students with leadership abilities and problem-solving skills for critical issues related to the management, utilization and stewardship of natural resources.  

During the two-semester course, students attend classroom lectures and interface with a range of private industry executives as well as local and nation-wide policymakers. The personal development program is co-instructed by Dean Janaki Alavalapati and Assistant Professor and Alabama Extension Specialist Adam Maggard, and both are optimistic about what lies ahead for the program.  

“The future of the FEWL Academy is bright. As an established and competitive education program centered on forestry, the environment, and wildlife, we are positioned to supply skill-building and collaborative opportunities through experiential learning to a qualified, select group of students creating a new a leadership force of natural resource professionals,” said Alavalapati 

The academy includes students from a range of majors offered at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and accepts members from the Auburn University College of Agriculture.  

“The diverse knowledge and skills of our students provide a prime environment for fostering leadership and collaboration, as each student is specialized within their field and can learn from one another to advance sustainable stewardship of natural resources for current and future generations,” said Alavalapati. 

In the past, the FEWL Academy has visited both Montgomery and Washington, D.C. During their trip to the state capitol, students met with Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and leaders of the Alabama Forestry Association and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  

In Washington, D.C., students visited organizations and offices where they gained insight into the development of natural resource policy issues. 

Though this year’s FEWL events may look a little different due to COVID-19 precautions, the program is still planning to visit the state capital in the fall. 

“At this time, the trip to Washington, D.C. is undecided as we are monitoring COVID-19 restrictions, but we are currently in the early stages of planning a fall visit to Montgomery. This semester, students have had the opportunity to interface with presidents, CEOs and decision makers from several forestry and natural resource companies and organizations, and from the university. They are also working on leadership projects that will continue into the fall,” said Maggard. 

The FEWL academy does not meet over the summer to enable students to better focus on career-building activities such as internships and volunteer programs. 

Auburn University alum Ed Sweeten, a leading authority on timberland acquisitions and land sales in the southern United States with over thirty-nine years of diversified forestry and real estate experience, helped create the FEWL Academy through his sponsorship of the program beginning in 2019.  

“It is exciting to see the school grow in quality and continue to foster the future leaders of the forestry industry. The opportunity to give back to the school is very satisfying, especially through the FEWL Academy and its work to provide students with valuable leadership experience,” said Sweeten. 

The school’s long-term goal is to create an endowment to support this program. Individuals or corporations interested in contributing to the endowment may contact the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Development Office at 334-844-2791 or email 

To learn more about the individuals in the 2021 FEWL Academy class, review their student biographies on the main FEWL Academy webpage.

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