The use of natural resources has been a forefront issue in local and national news and a debated topic in the current GOP campaign. However, one natural resource that will never deplete if managed well is timber.
Foresters play a key role in facilitating the production of wood products, while maintaining a balance of wildlife habitats and healthy water qualities. Through Auburn University’s forestry program, students are gaining hands-on experience on how to be eco and consumer friendly to maintain this balance.
For forestry senior Charlie Smith, 21, his love of the outdoors and desire to make a positive impact on the environment naturally led him toward this career path, but Auburn’s impressive forestry reputation made the Loveliest Village his destination point.
“I chose to come to Auburn because it is a top university in the country for this career and because it is one of two schools in the state of Alabama that provides the forestry major,” Smith said.
The great amount of hands-on experience is the factor that separates Auburn’s program from other schools, namely its summer practicum. The summer practicum is held in Andalusia, Ala., across 10 weeks. During this time, upcoming foresters attend classes and work in the field.
“It was a great learning experience, and it allowed many lifetime friends to be made,” Smith said. “During the two months in Andalusia, there were many different areas of forestry covered such as measurements, forest biology, operations, surveying and management. The majority of classes I have taken at Auburn have provided me with an abundance of real-world knowledge.”
The high level of working knowledge and experience that Auburn’s forestry program has provided its students is not the only reason it is regarded as an elite university for this sector.
“I would definitely recommend any prospective student to attend Auburn,” Smith said. “There is an excellent staff who has much expertise in this program of study as well as many other fields that would intrigue any person’s ambitions.”
Like any profession with environmental responsibilities, foresters have their share of supporters as well as adversaries. Some argue that cutting down trees is hazardous to the ecosystem and disrupts biodiversity. Smith counters this argument with his goal for sustainability.
“Forestry is the management of the world’s natural resources that if gone unmanaged would be over exploited and eventually wasted,” Smith said. “It not only allows numerous products to be made, but it is crucial for the recreational uses of the present and future generations.”
As Smith approaches graduation in December 2012, he looks forward to utilizing the knowledge that he has acquired from Auburn as well as implementing his own goals of maintaining a healthy and balanced natural environment.
“I just want to become a good steward of the land and use proper silvicultural practices,” Smith said.
To learn more about Auburn University’s forestry program, visit its website at https://sites.auburn.edu/academic/sfws/Pages/default.aspx or “like” them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/forestryclub.