Ashley Parkman Smith ’95 Forest Operations
Ashley Parkman Smith currently serves as director of education programs for the Alabama Forestry Association. Ashley’s roles for the Association include forestry education and outreach. She serves as the Alabama SFI State Implementation Committee coordinator. Prior to the Alabama Forestry Association, Ashley worked six years with urban tree non-profit Trees Columbus in Columbus, Georgia, and 11 years with Mead Coated Board and MeadWestvaco in fiber supply and forestry education/outreach. Ashley graduated in 1995 from Auburn University’s College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences with a B.S. Forest Operations. Ashley and her husband Ben Smith have two teenagers and reside in East Alabama.
About Ashley’s present career:
December 2017 marks the 22nd anniversary of my graduation from Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. To say that I have been in the professional world for more than two decades seems unbelievable! I currently work with the Alabama Forestry Association as the director of education programs. Promoting Alabama’s amazing forests and forest sustainability through targeted education and outreach programs encompasses my work. My previous jobs in the pulp/paper sector of the forest products industry and at an urban tree non-profit organization grew the knowledge base that I acquired during my time at Auburn. Throughout all of jobs, my Bachelor of Science earned in Forest Operations proved to be an excellent educational decision.
Alumna Spotlight with Ashley
What do you contribute to your success as a woman in forestry?
In 1993, 60 of us assembled for the Auburn forestry summer practicum at the Solon Dixon Center; three of us were female. I found then, just as I do now, that success for me is measured in a good day’s work, in doing a job one loves, and in having a mutual respect for and caring about others. A close group filled with commonly noble people, the forest community continuously demonstrates a willingness to accept those that are willing to work hard and believe in what one does. While I do have a few funny stories that could be shared from a woman in a typically male profession, I believe success for me is being able to work with such a good group of people.
What area of your field/industry do you see the most growth potential for women?
From field work to communications, mapping to planning, and including areas not yet defined, the forest industry offers growing career paths. Perhaps women did not once gravitate to forestry because of the amount of field work typically associated with such careers. However, women care about and for the environment and the sustainability of natural resources as much as men do. Generally speaking, women tend to be nurturing, caring, and mindful of the future; natural resource careers certainly provide an opportunity to fulfill those basic needs. Realizing that there are a variety of career options within natural resources offer women possibilities they may not have known possible. Of course, I think natural resource career options provide good, solid choices for women and men! Lots of people live on this planet so responsible decisions about natural resources are a necessity.
In what ways/means do you feel the school could best support its female graduates and students?
The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences supports all of its students, female and male, in a variety of ways. The faculty and staff at SFWS ranks high, wanting ALL students to succeed and do well. Long after students graduate, these same people seem to support and motivate in ways that go above and beyond the norm.
What advice would you give a new female graduate?
Make good choices. Work hard. Prove to yourself that you can do the job. Allow a gentleman to open a door for you, but understand you also have to open your own doors. Give guys a break on “shop” talk. Walk away when it is appropriate to do so. Take care of the land; God isn’t making any more of it. Help others understand that trees are a renewable, natural resource. Forests can be managed sustainably. Take care of the forests and by doing so, you will take care of wildlife, water resources, people, and so much more. Always remember that YOU are AUBURN. War Eagle!