Auburn’s forestry program was first established as the joint Department of Horticulture-Forestry in 1946. In 1947, the Department of Forestry was created in the School of Agriculture and later accredited by the Society of American Foresters. In 1984, the department was awarded “School” status in recognition of its growing prominence in research, outreach, and undergraduate and graduate education. Fifteen years later, Auburn’s Department of Wildlife Sciences merged with the School of Forestry to create what is now the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (SFWS).

Today, the SFWS offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a variety of natural resources disciplines. Our core undergraduate degree programs include Forestry, Wildlife Ecology and Management, Wildlife Pre-Veterinary Medicine Concentration, and Natural Resources Management, as well as graduate degrees at the master’s and PhD levels. In recent years, SFWS curricula has expanded beyond its core programs with the adoption of 3 new undergraduate degrees, including the Geospatial and Environmental Informatics, Sustainable Biomaterials and Packaging, and Wildlife Enterprise Management programs. The SFWS has also expanded to offer distance education and online learning platforms with the availability of an online non-thesis master’s degree and professional certification programs in the areas of Restoration Ecology, One Health, and Forest Finance and Investment. Since the launch of these programs, SFWS undergraduate and graduate student enrollment has increased nearly 50 percent, respectively.

At the SFWS, professors are world-class scientists who offer unsurpassed classroom instruction and abundant opportunities for experiential learning. Our faculty also lead research which ranges from biological, ecological and geospatial, to socioeconomic and policy aspects of forestry, wildlife, and natural resource conservation. The diversity of SFWS research allows students the opportunity to participate in research aimed at finding solutions to some of the most critical issues facing society. Undergraduates are exposed to research methods such as data collection, laboratory analysis, computer modeling, and other activities that have the potential to influence human health, climate resiliency, forest policy and product development, and wildlife and natural resources management strategies.

The SFWS is housed within a recently constructed 110,000-square-foot building that features a 100-seat auditorium, eight technology enhanced classrooms, modular conference rooms, research laboratories, libraries, project rooms, a student advisement suite, and a student lounge. Adjacent to the building is a picnic pavilion and acres of forested green space available for student learning and enjoyment. In addition to this facility, the SFWS offers nearly 6,000-forested acres and many educational facilities dedicated to instruction and experiential learning, including the 120-acre Kreher Preserve and Nature Center and the 400-acre Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest, both located within Auburn, and the 5,300-acre Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center near Andalusia, Alabama.

The SFWS is a flagship institution for natural resource-based degrees and is the backbone to Alabama’s $24 billion forest, wildlife and natural resources industry. Its combined assets of faculty, facilities, and curriculum are preparing the next generation of leaders with the knowledge and ability to conserve and manage our natural systems for a sustainable future.

To learn more about the SFWS academic, research and outreach programs, we invite you to explore our website, or contact us at sfwscom@auburn.edu.

Milestones in the History of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

1888       First annual report of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station contains a survey of woods in Alabama by P.M. Mell, Jr., professor of natural history

1896       API adds a one semester course in horticulture that includes observations in forestry”

1905       Botany department adds research in forestry

1907       Horticulture department adds first course in forestry

1908       R.S. Mackintosh becomes the first professor of horticulture and forestry

1923       Lamar M. Ware, “the father of Auburn forestry,” joins the faculty as assistant professor of horticulture and forestry

1924       Associate Professor Otto Brown named the first extension forester

1927       L.M. Ware established the first forestry plantation at Auburn, initiating forestry research

1930       L.M. Ware appointed head of Department of Horticulture and Forestry

1936       Alabama Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit established at API under the direction of Harold S. Peters

1938       Elmer A. Jones receives the first master of science degree in game management

1940       API acquires first two experiment forests in Barbour and Coosa counties

1945       Alabama legislature passes bill to authorize the establishment of the first undergraduate forestry degree in API

1946       Forestry becomes a standalone curriculum in the horticulture and forestry department

1947

Forestry becomes a standalone department in the School of Agriculture

R.H. Westveld appointed first head of forestry department, July 1, 1947

T.D. Stevens head of forestry department (1947–1950)

Forestry building dedicated

1951      W.B. DeVall appointed head of forestry department (1951–1977)

1953       James E. Moak receives the first master of science in forestry

1960       Zoology-Entomology Department offers the first degree option in wildlife sciences

1969       Forestry building named for M. White Smith, Jr.

1971      Alden Main earned the first Ph.D. in forestry

1976      M.L. Rollins (Gamble) is the first woman and Ernest Boyd the first African American to earn bachelor’s degrees in forestry

1977       Emmett F. Thompson appointed forestry department head (1977–1985)

1978–1980 Solon and Martha Dixon donate 5,300 acres of timberland and Dixon homestead to establish the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center

1984       The School of Forestry is formed

1985       Emmett F. Thompson appointed the first dean of the School of Forestry (1985–1998)

1986       Zoology-Wildlife Sciences department transfers to the College of Sciences and Mathematics

1998       Richard W. Brinker appointed the second dean of the School of Forestry (1998–2010)

1999       Forestry and wildlife sciences merge to form the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

2002       Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Building groundbreaking

2005       Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Building dedication

2010       James Shepard appointed dean of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (2010–2014)

2015       Janaki R.R. Alavalapati appointed dean of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (2015–present)

2021       Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

– Compiled by SFWS Historian and Author, Dr. Arthur Slotkin