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Forging a path in forestry: An alumnus’ journey

By September 6, 2023September 11th, 2023No Comments

Meet JaDiah Banks, CFWE alumnus and Resource Technical Forester at Rayonier

JaDiah Banks Young Alumni“I enjoy every aspect of my career because I do something different each day.”

JaDiah Banks, a distinguished alumnus who earned his bachelor’s degree in forestry from Auburn University in 2023, offers a captivating account of his transition from the academic world to the role of Resource Technical Forester at Rayonier. Through his experiences, he illuminates the profound impact of education, mentorship, and the art of seizing opportunities.

The dynamic range of responsibilities keeps his work exciting and constantly evolving. JaDiah is a force at Rayonier’s Andalusia, Alabama location where he serves as a Resource Technical Forester. In his role, he plays a vital part in the Timber Marketing and Resource Land Management Teams. JaDiah’s role is a blend of responsibilities encompassing delivering top-tier information, fostering collaboration across teams, gathering timber cruise data, preparing sales, crafting maps, conducting in-depth forest inventories, and expertly mapping stands.

In addition, he’s a crucial player in ensuring harvest compliance, conducting audits, and meticulously overseeing contract adherence as the need arises. When it is time for forest inventory, JaDiah rolls up his sleeves, heading to the field to capture tree data, including the diameter at breast height (DBH) and tree heights. 

CFWE’s impact on JaDiah’s forestry journey 

CFWE students at Summer Practicum at Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center
CFWE students at Summer Practicum in Andalusia, AL. 

JaDiah credits CFWE for providing him with a solid foundation leading to his career. He particularly highlights the importance of his completed classes and their pivotal role. Harvesting courses sharpened his communication skills and ability to assess logger performance, while the soils class provided insights into the interplay between soil types and tree species. Both courses gave him the knowledge needed to make informed decisions in real-world field situations. 

However, JaDiah emphasizes the impact of Summer Practicum, an immersive experience hosted at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center near Andalusia, AL. This program stands as a cornerstone of CFWE’s hands-on approach to education. During the Summer Practicum, forestry students immerse themselves in a dynamic learning environment, temporarily leaving behind the confines of traditional classrooms. They reside at the Dixon Center, where they actively participate in courses tailored to provide hands-on learning and cultivate the field skills essential for their education and future careers.

Solon Dixon Forestry Education CenterSolon Dixon Forestry Education Center in Andalusia, AL.

“Summer practicum was a big part of helping me prepare for my career because that is where I learned to cruise and do forest inventory.” 

For JaDiah, this immersive experience was pivotal. It allowed him to gain practical, real-world experience in cruising and forest inventory – skills that have become indispensable in his current role as a Resource Technical Forester at Rayonier. The Summer Practicum’s blend of experiential learning and exposure to the natural environment enhanced JaDiah’s abilities and underscored the practical relevance of his education. It’s an experience that continues to resonate in his daily work, ensuring that he’s well-prepared to meet the challenges of his career head-on. 

Path to the plains 

JaDiah Banks

JaDiah’s journey into the professional world of forestry began in his small Alabama hometown of Frisco City, where he developed a deep connection with nature and the outdoors. His passion for the environment and love for being outdoors led him to choose forestry as his major, which has shaped his career. His choice was enriched by CFWE’s impactful experience, which provided him with academic knowledge and fostered his dedication to the field. 

MANNRS at CFWE 

JaDiah Banks with MANRRS members and alumsJaDiah (second from left) with other MANRRS members and alums. 

“MANRRS was impactful to me because we collectively strived to provide a diverse and welcoming community for CFWE students.” 

JaDiah’s time at CFWE extended beyond the classroom, emphasizing the importance of Auburn’s Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) student chapter within CFWE. MANRRS played a pivotal role in both his personal and professional development.  JaDiah found a platform within this organization to champion careers in forestry and natural resources among high school students. MANRRS offered a welcoming and supportive community within CFWE, facilitating professional growth and opportunities for community service engagement.

“…I was happy to know there was an effort from an organization designed to help me succeed. The support to ensure that I succeeded as a student and a professional fully prepared me for my career.”

For more information on Auburn University’s MANRRS chapter, visit https://auburn.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/manrrs.

Advice for Prospective and Current Students 

JaDiah Banks in graduation regalia with friendsJaDiah in graduation regalia with CFWE friends 

When asked about the guidance he might offer current or prospective forestry students, JaDiah’s advice is straightforward: attend classes regularly, stay engaged, and never hesitate to seek guidance from professors.

“Joining clubs and participating in college activities can expand your horizons and networking opportunities.”

JaDiah also emphasizes the importance of applying for internships, as they provide practical experience and enhance readiness for future interviews.  

JaDiah Banks’ journey from CFWE to Resource Technical Forester showcases the potential that CFWE’s forestry program unlocks. His dedication, passion for the outdoors, and the solid foundation and support system he received at Auburn University have propelled him into a rewarding and diverse career in forestry. As a young alumnus, he serves as an inspiration and a testament to the excellence of CFWE’s education. 

Learn more about CFWE’s forestry degree

Click here to learn more about the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment’s forestry degree program.

Path to the Plains

Path to the Plains (P2P) is a concurrent enrollment program offered by Auburn University and partner community college institutions designed for students who want to transfer to Auburn to finish their bachelor’s degrees once they have completed their associate’s degrees.

The Path to the Plains program provides academic support to students throughout their time at the partner institution and helps prepare them for a successful transition to Auburn.

For more information on Path to the Plains, visit https://auburn.edu/academic/provost/pathways/path-to-the-plains/

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