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Two Auburn University students named recipients of Crooked Oaks Legacy Foundation Scholarship based on dedication to research

By April 20, 2023May 15th, 2023No Comments

Two Auburn University College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, or CFWE, students have been awarded the Crooked Oaks Legacy Foundation Scholarship. 

Ally Cobern, a junior studying Wildlife Ecology and Management, and Catherine Cummings, a second-year doctoral student, were awarded the scholarship at a ceremony held on April 6, 2023.  

The Crooked Oaks Legacy Foundation was established by former football head coach Pat Dye and Dr. Nancy McDonald upon Coach Dye’s passing in 2020.  

The Foundation is named for Coach Dye’s farm, now a destination for quail hunting, weddings, and gardens specializing in the cultivation of Japanese maple trees. The Foundation has a multiprong purpose of continuing the mission of Crooked Oaks Farm to include providing educational opportunities through wildlife and habitat conservation, public use and enjoyment of the land and gardens, for the retirement and rescue of qualifying animals and for the study of nature. 

Created to highlight the research and academic performance of Auburn University students, the Crooked Oaks Legacy Foundation Scholarship provides recipients with financial support for their studies. This is the second year the scholarship has been awarded. 

Ally and Catherine visited Crooked Oaks Farm where they were presented with their awards by Wanda Dye, Foundation board member and daughter of Coach Dye.  

“The Crooked Oaks Foundation Board is honored and humbled by the tremendous research projects Catherine Cummings and Ally Cobern are undertaking. We are hopeful that these awards will contribute to their future endeavors in wildlife conversation, environmental policy and public health,” said Wanda Dye. 

Ally is a member of the Auburn University Honors College, the CFWE Student Ambassadors program, and is an undergraduate research fellow studying the harmful effects of free-ranging dogs on native biodiversity. After graduation, Ally plans to travel and pursue a master’s degree to continue research and learn more about wildlife policy. With this knowledge, she will strive to influence environmental policy that will promote biodiversity. 

“With this award, I now have the resources to advance my invasive species research here at Auburn and begin looking for higher education opportunities. I plan to pursue a master’s degree to conduct and lead my own research that will influence environmental policy and promote biodiversity,” said Ally. 

Catherine works in The Conservation Governance Lab under the direction of Kelly Dunning, associate professor of conservation governance within the CFWE. Catherine’s dissertation research focuses on the human dimensions of Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, in which she surveyed hunters in states with recent cases of the disease to understand how hunters respond to a positive detection. Her research will provide state wildlife agencies and universities information regarding stakeholder engagement with CWD. She also serves as a teaching assistant for undergraduate wildlife courses at Auburn University. Upon receiving her doctorate, Catherine intends to pursue a state or federal agency career in human dimensions research. 

“It is truly an honor to receive this award. I am so appreciative that the board has chosen to contribute to my research on the human dimensions of Chronic Wasting Disease. This scholarship will allow me to further my career goals towards becoming a professional in wildlife conservation and management,” said Catherine. 

“We are so pleased the Crooked Oaks Foundation has recognized the hard work of these high-achieving students. Their ongoing support of Auburn University and the fields of wildlife conservation and environmental policy is a testimony to Coach Dye’s legacy,” said Janaki Alavalapati, dean of the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment. 

(Written by Avanelle Elmore)

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