The College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, or CFWE, has fostered leadership opportunities for outstanding students through the Forest, Environment and Wildlife Leadership, or FEWL, Academy since its establishment in 2019.
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 FEWL academy 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 Associate Professor and Extension Specialist Adam Maggard and Dean Janaki Alavalapati.
For 2022, the program continues with 12 students, including the academy’s first doctoral student, Greg Johnson of the college’s Conservation Governance Lab.
Current members of the FEWL Academy include Payton Brewer, Angel Cagle, Avanelle Elmore, Ariana Hansen, Greg Johnson, Nathan Kurtz, Josh Mullins, Caroline Silva, Jessica Staggs, Megan Starling, Sydney Spurlock and Casey Whitt.
As part of the experiential learning provided by the academy, FEWL members recently attended the 2022 Alabama Forestry Association Annual Meeting in Orange Beach, Alabama where they met with forestry professionals, including Auburn alumni.
“Attendance of this annual meeting was a unique opportunity for FEWL students to network with industry leaders and policy makers and reflect on leadership tenets they have learned in the class,” said Dr. Maggard.
The highlight of the trip for the students was meeting with Auburn University President Christopher Roberts, who spoke on the excellence of the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment and its capacities to grow as a university.
“Dr. Roberts took the time to personally ask about our areas of study and how we became interested in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment,” said Avanelle Elmore.
“We were all excited to meet him and were grateful to be included in the talk with Auburn faculty and alumni about the university’s future,” said Megan Starling.
As dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, President Roberts co-managed the Forest Engineering major with the CFWE and assisted faculty with the launch of the Geospatial and Environmental Informatics and Sustainable Biomaterials and Packaging degree programs in the CFWE.
The students also had the opportunity to attend an alumni coffee reception hosted by Dean Alavalapati followed by breakfast with keynote speaker Katie Britt, Alabama’s US Senatorial Candidate. Congressman Jerry Carl, who represents Alabama’s first district, also spoke at the breakfast.
After breakfast, Dr. Roberts served as mediator on the panel “The Forest Driven Economy of Alabama,” which featured Brian Luoma, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Westervelt Company, Robert Dixon, President of M.C. Dixon Lumber Company, and Gary Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
Members of the FEWL Academy were grateful for the opportunity to network with forestry professionals and learn more about the industry.
“We are especially grateful to Ed Sweeten for sponsoring the academy’s activities, including a team building retreat to the Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana taken last spring,” said Jessica Staggs.
(Written by Avanelle Elmore)