AUBURN – Auburn University broke ground June 6 on the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation Learning Center in Andalusia.
The $1.6 million facility will feature a 100-seat auditorium and 40-seat classroom addition to the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center, which is used for teaching, research and outreach by the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.
"We must be able to continue to give our students the best possible preparation for the future," said James Shepard, dean of Auburn's School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. "Staying true to Solon Dixon's vision is the way to do that."
The gift of land and funds to create original Education Center came from the late Solon Dixon in 1978. He envisioned an immersive, live-in learning experience for forestry students.
Forestry and wildlife students, during a summer practicum, live and study on the 5,300 acres belonging to the center and gain valuable field experience.
"There are few facilities like this in the nation," said Shepard, "and none finer."
Research and student groups from universities across the nation also have utilized the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center. This summer a team from Penn State is researching lizards. An Auburn University group has catalogued almost 1,000 species of plant life, representing nearly 20 percent of the plant biodiversity in the entire state of Alabama.
The new Learning Center will also enhance the center's ability to offer modern training and conference space to natural resources groups throughout the year, which helps support the center's operations.
Doris Tyler, speaking on behalf of the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation, said that they are excited about the new facility and the advantages it will offer to students and partner organizations. The Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation has continued to support the center since its dedication in 1980, and has pledged 60 percent of the cost of the new facility.
Fundraising efforts are ongoing. For more information, contact Development Officer Heather Crozier firstname.lastname@example.org or (334) 844-2791.
Visit http://sdfec.auburn.edu to learn more about the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center.
(Contributed by Jessica Nelson.)