The Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center in Andalusia during a Nov. 10 reception, which also honored Martha Dixon, the center’s original benefactor, who celebrated her 100th birthday in September.
The Dixon Center, a 5,300-acre learning facility and outdoor classroom, was established in 1978 with a substantial donation and gift of land to Auburn University from Solon and Martha Dixon.
“It is unique educational assets, such as the Dixon Center, that allow the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences to be a leader in preparing resource managers with the knowledge and skills necessary to make them competitive in the job market,” said Dean Janaki Alavalapati, who introduced three generations of the Dixon family and welcomed more than 50 guests from the forestry industry, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Alabama Forestry Commission.
The reception reunited the individuals who established and managed the Dixon Center for 35 years, including former Dean Emmett Thompson and former Director Rhett Johnson. Since the dedication of the property and its original classroom building in 1980, the facility grew exponentially under their leadership. Today, thousands of university students and natural resource managers from Alabama and across the country visit the facility annually to learn best practices in forestry and wildlife management.
Joel Martin, the Dixon Center’s current director, says the unique combination of classroom theory and practice helps students develop crucial skills for all levels of natural resource management. “It’s impressive how many people working today in decision making or policy influencing positions ‘cut their teeth’ at the center,” Martin said.
Associate Professor and Extension Specialist Becky Barlow provided a 200-year historical perspective of the Dixon family’s contributions to forestry, stating “Solon and Martha’s influence and their personal mission to support education and conservation are clearly visible to us with the continued vitality of Alabama’s forestry industry and the success of the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center.”
“We were very pleased with the event and so thankful for the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and the staff of the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center for their efforts to create such a lovely, and well attended event,” said Doris Tyler, president of the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation.
The center’s facilities are available for group reservation and include private/semi-private accommodations for up to 100 guests, multiple classrooms, auditorium, dining hall and recreation building. More information is available at http://sdfec.auburn.edu/index.html.
(Written by Jamie Anderson)