Have no fear; a degree in Natural Resources Management (NRM) is now here. The only school in Alabama, and one of few in the southeast, the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (SFWS) at Auburn University provides various programs for students, but for those seeking an education in conservation, the environment and the outdoors can now enroll in NRM.
“It’s an interdisciplinary program,” Director of NRM and Auburn professor Dr. Wayde Morse said. “Students study a variety of natural and social sciences, and then explore how they are integrated for conservation and management in some of our upper level courses.”
This fall will introduce a new course, nature-based recreation. “We’re going to be looking at everything from mountain biking in Chewacla State Park to birding to hunting,” Morse said.
Morse is originally from the mid-west and has studied in New Mexico and Colorado. Morse also spent time working and studying abroad in Panama, New Zealand and Costa Rica. His recreational and international experiences drive his passion for environmental conservation work. Morse pursued and advocated bringing the NRM program to Auburn approximately two years ago. As a collaborative effort among forestry and wildlife faculty, NRM is now underway with 34 students enrolled.
“There are all kinds of careers that can come from this major,” Morse said. “Students can work in a private industry, for local and federal departments of conservation and natural resources, environmental consulting, ecotourism, environmental education. The possibilities are endless depending on your interests.”
NRM is a flexible program. It’s designed to go with one of four minors, which are not restricted to NRM majors: nature-based recreation, natural resources ecology, urban environmental sciences and watershed sciences.
“There is currently a graduate student investigating volunteer tourism,” Morse said. “He went to Ecuador and Costa Rica and conducted case studies working with the locals to learn the positive and negative impacts of volunteer efforts on the community.”
The SFWS prides itself on its outdoor classrooms. The Solon Dixon Forestry Education center offers 5,300 acres for educational use, while the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve and the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest provide an additional 520 acres. Not to mention that the SFWS has 30 acres within walking distance from the main building on campus.
Photo by Kelsey Woodworth, at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University