The Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences has recognized Frank Walburn, Regions Bank senior vice president of natural resources and real estate, as its Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.
Walburn, a 1979 graduate, has worked in forestry and forest management for more than 40 years, including forest regeneration, timber and fiber procurement, strategic planning, consulting forestry and the ground-up development of some of the state’s first timberland investment funds.
“During his four decades of service, Frank has solidified a reputation as a knowledgeable, ethical and hard-working forester and industry leader with a great heart and commitment to give back to his alma mater and the state’s forestry community,” said School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Dean Janaki Alavalapati. “Frank is truly a role model for our students.”
Walburn, who received the honor during a recent awards ceremony, said he is honored by the recognition, which was presented for calendar year 2018.
“I’ve always given credit for much of the professional success I’ve had to the ability to network with other professionals, which began for me at Auburn University and continues to this day,” Walburn said. “I’m humbled and proud to be selected as alumnus of the year—especially considering the sharp, dedicated professionals I know in our alumni ranks.
“I feel blessed to know the people, the science and the application of good forestry practices that I acquired by attending Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.”
Walburn was a member of the Alabama State Board of Registered Foresters for five years beginning in 2006, serving as chairman of the board in 2009 and 2010. Additional contributions and leadership positions include chairmanship of the Alabama Forestry Association, and Alabama Division chair for the Society of American Foresters, or SAF, with which he remains active on both state and local levels.
As an advocate for the school, Walburn has worked on multiple fundraising campaigns and served on school advisory boards. Most recently, he is leading Region’s efforts at Auburn to promote forest products and forestry research to continue funding two endowed professorships, including the Regions Professor for Forest Products, who leads the new Forest Products Development Center.
Beyond his Regions-related support, Walburn has personally encouraged research at the Forest Products Development Center and its study of green chemicals and biofuels from forestry. This includes helping researchers locate specific supplies of wood fiber, pulp and other bioproducts for research and promoting the center’s work with forestry and industry stakeholders.
In 1981, after a post-graduation job with Selma-based Walter Mills Forestry Services, Walburn worked his way through the ranks at Canadian forestry company MacMillan Bloedel Inc., eventually becoming director of the company’s Woodlands Division from 1992-1999. He later served as a consulting forester, then joined the AmSouth Bank in 2003 as senior vice president and timber fund manager.
When Regions acquired AmSouth in 2007, Walburn was selected to lead the combined institution’s timberland investment efforts and development of new funds. In 2017, he was appointed to his current position where he oversees the management of 4 million acres of timber and mineral resources across the United States.
Walburn was nominated by Jim Bates, a 1997 School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences graduate who now works for Regions in wealth management through natural resources.
The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences recognizes outstanding alumni annually. Award recipients must not only be a graduate of the school, their careers must demonstrate a history of outstanding contributions to forestry or wildlife sciences within the state, nationally or internationally, while exhibiting exemplary character and integrity.
Originally published August 12th, 2019.
(Written by Teri Greene)