The Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences sponsors many student clubs and organizations that play a valuable role in the lives and professional development of its students.
Student clubs create a sense of community for likeminded students to socialize together, network with related-faculty and stakeholders, and to further their knowledge of their field.
However, the students who hold key leadership roles in those clubs are responsible for managing the club’s activities with the assistance of faculty advisors.
Marisa Juarez, a junior in natural resources management, exemplifies student leadership in her role as the president of the Society of Natural Resources, an organization formed to engage students with local conservation efforts and environmental science professionals.
“Our main purpose is to promote sustainability and environmental awareness as well as provide student resources with hands-on learning through social activities and events and guest speakers from the professional field,” said Juarez.
Juarez was originally a student of the College of Sciences and Mathematics until she realized that her enjoyment of the outdoors and science skills could intersect in the natural resources field. As a transfer student to the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, she understands the importance of having a support system within the school.
“I joined the society so that I could feel that I was a part of the community and get a broader sense of our goals as students of natural resources management. Professor Chris Anderson, the organization’s faculty advisor, encouraged NRM students to run for the officer positions and I am very thankful for his efforts.”
Anderson’s encouragement was well timed for Juarez; as a member of the Forest, Environment, and Wildlife Leadership (FEWL) academy, she was in search of a leadership opportunity where she could apply the skills she was learning.
“With those skills, I was able to run for the presidency in the Society and aptly use those abilities in my role as president. The relationships that I have been able to make with my classmates through our shared work to achieve the society’s goals have really enriched the experience.”
The Society for Natural Resources offers students a place to work together and gain skills that will aid them once they enter the workforce with valuable field experience, resume-building, and volunteering.
“All of those involved, including myself, have been able to improve their organizational and leadership skills because of our collaborations.”
Juarez also touched on the importance of natural resources management student representation, as it can often be overlooked by those that assume the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, or SFWS, only supports the career paths of those in forestry and wildlife sciences.
“Going into this role, my priority was to build membership to strengthen our presence within the SFWS and on campus. As our school is dominated by forestry majors, I felt the need to establish our credibility as students of this smaller and fairly new major. We have come a long way and will continue working to raise awareness on the importance of sustainability and the growing natural resources field.”
Juarez believes that student involvement is important because it allows for exposure into networking.
“Even if it is just making stronger connections to your professors, networking is doubly effective in the forestry, wildlife, and natural resources fields because they are so tightly knit; just knowing one professional can open so many doors for a student. As Amanda Wenzel, the Society’s secretary, has said in the past, the more you invest in your campus, the more you care about it.”
To ensure that the word is getting out about the society, Juarez explains that creating and sharing of posters, sending out of mass emails to students and faculty, and the recent hosting of an annual chili cook-off to promote the strengthening of the school’s student-professor dynamics have all been tools used to promote the organization and its mission.
“For the cook-off we opened attendance to all students of Auburn so that those who are not familiar with our school’s mission could learn more about our goals in a casual environment, and we plan to continue to extend this invitation for most if not all events we host in the future.”
Juarez hopes that recruitment continues to increase and is confident that the enthusiasm of the underclassmen members will be sustained throughout their times as students here.
“I know that this organization will allow them more opportunities in the field and persist in their pursuit of sustainable initiatives on campus.”
Examples of such initiatives include the society’s recent participation in the Alabama Water Watch, or AWW, Tuskegee National Forest Water Monitoring workshop. This two day workshop gave volunteers the opportunity to earn a certification in AWW Water Chemistry and Bacteriological Monitoring and conduct water quality testing on site in the National Forests of Alabama.
The organization also plans to take a trip to Wheeler, AL for a whooping crane observation. Contact Juarez at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about this and other opportunities within the society.
(Written by Avanelle Elmore)