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Rooted in Resilience: An alumnus’ journey

By January 31, 2024February 19th, 2024No Comments

Meet Russell Turner, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment alumnus and Fiber Supply Associate at International Paper


2022 Forestry Alum Russell Turner
Russell Turner, 2022 CFWE forestry alumnus. 

“Don’t be afraid to learn new things and get comfortable being uncomfortable.” 

This is the advice Russell Turner, ‘22 forestry, extends to fellow Auburn foresters. These principles, which Russell learned through diverse challenges, have significantly shaped his career thus far.

Russell’s professional journey has drawn strength from the relationships made during his years at the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE). These lasting connections with classmates and professors have framed his resilience and contributed to early success in his career. 

“Professors that I had in college have been very supportive, kept up with my career and have been available for questions or general guidance when needed. That plays a huge part in the confidence you have when you get into your career.” 

Russell’s decision to major in forestry at Auburn University was influenced by a family friend in the timber business. With advice from a professional in the industry, he understood the versatility that forestry provided for various career directions, expanding his career prospects and offering a broader array of paths to explore as he advanced in his journey. 

This insight guided Russell’s academic pursuits and set the foundation for his path. Throughout his time at Auburn, he engaged in hands-on experiences and developed practical skills that complemented his classroom learning. He served as the president of the Forestry Club and was a member of Auburn’s Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) chapter, led by CFWE academic advisor and urban forestry expert Michelle Cole. 

“CFWE not only provided great education, but also provided me with a chance to work on things outside the classroom such as networking and interpersonal skills,” said Russell. “I use both of those every day in my job, and the knowledge I have of forestry would be useless without them.” 

As he embarked on his professional journey, Russell’s understanding of the diverse opportunities within the forestry industry equipped him to navigate the complexities of his field with confidence and purpose. As a Fiber Supply Associate at International Paper, Russell facilitates supplier relationships and participates in special projects. This provides valuable opportunities for him to gain insights from diverse perspectives, cultivating his ongoing learning and professional development. 

Russell Turner (second left) with International Paper colleagues at CFWE’s Fall 2023 Welcome Back Picnic.Russell Turner (second left) with International Paper colleagues at CFWE’s Fall 2023 Welcome Back Picnic. 

“I enjoy helping others, so making a deal that benefits both my company and the supplier I’m engaging with is top of the list for me.” 

Reflecting on his time at CFWE, Russell expresses gratitude to the dedicated staff in CFWE’s Student Services and influential professors, including Tom Gallagher and Adam Maggard, for their support and guidance. Their contributions significantly impacted his academic and personal growth, creating lasting connections that continue to enrich his post-college life. 

Russell Turner and International Paper colleague speaking with Extension Specialist & Harry E. Murphy Associate Professor, Forest Systems Management Adam Maggard at CFWE’s Fall 2023 Welcome Back Picnic.Russell Turner speaking with Extension Specialist & Harry E. Murphy Associate Professor Adam Maggard at CFWE’s Fall 2023 Welcome Back Picnic.

“You have to be able to communicate and work cohesively with people from all different walks of life, and my professors and advisors at the CFWE made sure I was well prepared to do so.” 

Follow along in February as we celebrate Black History Month by featuring alums of the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment’s degree programs! 

Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are integral to the country’s history. In celebration this year, organizations throughout Auburn will host several events and initiatives in which students, faculty and staff are welcome to participate. Click here for more information and to view events.

Click here for more information on the CFWE’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives.

(Written by Allison Killingsworth)

Interested in pursing a degree in forestry? Explore options at the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment

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