Involvement within the Auburn University College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment 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 his own words, learn how participation in student clubs has positively impacted JaDiah Smith’s experience at Auburn and his career potential after graduation:
Area of Study: Forestry
Expected Graduation: Spring 2023
Involvement: Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), Forestry Club, CFWE Student Ambassadors
Why did you choose Auburn?
I chose Auburn University because I grew up being an Auburn fan. From the first time I stepped foot on campus I understood and appreciated the family atmosphere. By the end of the campus tour I knew that Auburn was the place to be.
What led you to choose this field of study?
I grew up in a small town in south Alabama where everywhere you look you find a logging truck. This influenced me to enter the field, as well as my enjoyment of the outdoors.
What is your favorite part about being a student in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment?
I really enjoyed taking part in summer practicum where forestry students spend eight weeks at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center. Over those eight weeks, I was enrolled in forest surveying, forest biology, field mensuration, and forest management strategies. Practicum prepared me for my studies as I entered junior year, and those courses still contribute to my academic performance.
Describe a class that you have taken as a student of Forestry studies that has left an impact on you.
Dr. Gallagher’s Timber Harvesting class left an impact on me, especially because we were able to visit logging operations and sawmills. It was a unique chance to see the different types of logging operations such as thinning and clearcutting weekly. One visit that stayed with me was going to a tract to learn about best management practices such as streamside management zones.
What opportunities within the college have helped ensure your academic success?
Being a part of the Forestry Club has increased my knowledge of forestry in general. This club brings in a range of professionals in industry and students can meet with them one on one. Attending professional development meetings and club study sessions has helped me succeed.
If you are involved in a student organization within the college, describe the group’s purpose and why being a member is important to you.
I am the president of the Auburn University chapter of Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources, or MANRRS. This organization is important to me because we collectively strive to provide a diverse and welcoming community for CFWE students. I like the professional development that I get from being involved with MANRRS and the community service aspect. Each semester we create care baskets in the CFWE building to help students who need a little extra help.
I am also a CFWE Student Ambassador. In this role, I help Mrs. Brooke Martin, our student recruitment and events coordinator for the college. This includes putting folders together about the college’s majors to give out to prospective students, writing welcome letters, and giving tours of the building during my office hours. I also help with events such as our homecoming tailgate, Talons Day, and Admitted Students’ Day.
What are you doing right now as a student that is giving you supplemental experience in your desired field?
I am currently working on my senior capstone project, which entails cruising timber for a landowner. This project allows me to gain a better understanding of what my daily work will entail as a forester, such as measuring diameter at breast height, or DBH, and total height for individual trees on the tract.
What are your plans after you graduate?
Once I graduate in May, I plan to begin work as a procurement forester, which means I will be handling aspects of a timber supply for a landowner, from negotiating prices to harvesting logs.
What are you passionate about? How does CFWE allow you to pursue those passions?
MANNRS, the student chapter within CFWE, has given me the opportunity to have a voice through encouraging high school students to consider careers in forestry and natural resources. This year I was involved in the JR MANNRS Leadership Institute Conference, and I was able to see why we need our high school to college pipeline program. At the conference, we hosted interactive sessions where students gained firsthand knowledge of how things work in the forestry industry. This experience taught me that we need to be able to communicate with the youth about our programs so that they know these career paths are available to them.
What advice would you give to upcoming CFWE freshmen?
Go to class every day, pay attention, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your professors with questions. Join clubs and take part in activities within the college. Also, interview for as many internships as possible. This is great practice, and you will become better prepared for the job application process.
Interview is lightly edited for clarity.
(Written by Avanelle Elmore)