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 her own words, learn how participation in student clubs has positively impacted Payton Brewer’s experience at Auburn and her career potential after graduation:
Major: Wildlife Ecology & Management
Expected Graduation: Spring 2023
Involvement: Forest, Environment, and Wildlife Leadership Academy, or FEWL, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment Student Government Association, The Wildlife Society
Why did you choose Auburn?
I chose to attend Auburn the day I toured the campus. Auburn University feels like a family, and what was then the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, felt like home. The people of Auburn drew me to this university.
What led you to choose this major?
I have grown up in a family that values the natural world, and I chose to pursue a career that would allow me to grow in that appreciation. I believed that Wildlife Ecology and Management would best equip me to conserve and understand what I love.
What is your favorite part about being a student in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment?
My favorite part is the community I am surrounded by daily. I have made what I believe to be lifelong friends throughout my years at this college. We are surrounded by mentors who are willing to share their experiences and open doors for us. Small class sizes, summer practicum, clubs and research opportunities have allowed me to make strong connections.
Describe a class that you have taken as a student of Wildlife Ecology & Management that has left an impact on you.
Dendrology, the study of woody plants, has left a lasting impact on me. This class has impacted my career plans and I am now getting the chance to share my love for the class as a teacher’s assistant, thanks to Dr. Nancy Lowenstein.
What opportunities within the college have helped ensure your academic success?
The opportunities presented to me within this college have been endless. Through the years I have been able to dart deer at the Auburn University Deer Lab, use telemetry to track gray squirrels, handle birds and band them, trap coyotes and raccoons, plant pine seedlings, work on my own research and represent my college at conferences. The list of opportunities is truly endless, but these are among my favorites.
If you are involved in a student organization within the school, describe the group’s purpose and why being a member is important to you.
I am the CFWE Student Government Association, or SGA president. The purpose of SGA is to be the voice of the students from our college to the main campus. Once a month I meet with fellow presidents and vice presidents to speak about our college’s current events. In our specific college, SGA provides students with events to meet fellow students and town halls to voice changes they would like to see. Being a member of the SGA has given me an opportunity to communicate the needs of students and make personal connections with people I would otherwise not meet.
What are you doing right now as a student that is giving you supplemental experience in your desired field?
Currently, I am working on my own research project on pine species as an undergraduate research fellow. I am also a member of the Forestry, Environment and Wildlife Leadership, or FEWL Academy, and work as a dendrology teaching assistant. I am thoroughly enjoying each of these experiences, along with the people I have gotten to know through them.
What are your plans after you graduate?
After graduation, my plan is to take seasonal jobs and explore my interests. I am highly interested in working with habitat management, so I am excited to see where this interest takes me. I am open to any and all opportunities.
What are you passionate about? How does CFWE allow you to pursue those passions?
I am passionate about the conservation of the natural world and sharing that passion with others. CFWE has allowed me to work with my hands outdoors alongside amazing people. Since day one of being a part of this college, I have been given ample opportunity to pursue my love for wildlife and connect with those who share my interests.
What advice would you give to upcoming CFWE freshmen?
I would advise freshman to get to know professors and other students! Get involved with an organization and explore opportunities for research. CFWE is full of people who want to see you succeed. Making the building a sort of second home will make such a difference in your experience. You do not have to be afraid to put yourself out there– hands on experience is priceless.
Interview is lightly edited for clarity.
(Written by Avanelle Elmore)