Loewenstein Receives Educator of the Year Award



Congratulations to Dr. Nancy Loewenstein, SFWS Research Fellow and Extension Specialist, for her recent award as the 2016 Alabama Project Learning Tree Educator of the Year by the Alabama Forestry Association! Loewenstein is recognized for her instruction, volunteer service and leadership role within Alabama as an advocate for the program. Project Learning Tree provides award-winning environmental education programs for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12.

To learn more about Alabama Project Learning Tree, visit http://www.alaforestry.org/?page=plt






Barlow, Dupree and Freeman Win National Communications Award

2016 ACE Awards2CRPD

ACE Director, Dr. Gary Lemme, is shown left to right with Barlow’s team members, Bruce Dupree and Glenda Freeman.


SFWS Associate Professor and Alabama Extension Specialist, Becky Barlow, was recognized with Alabama Extension communications and marketing team members, Bruce Dupree and Glenda Freeman, as a recipient of the prestigious Association of Communication Excellence (ACE) Outstanding Professional Skill Award for Graphic Design for their work producing the Alabama Extension Longleaf Pine Habitat Poster.

ACE serves as the professional development organization for communications professionals based at land grant institutions like Auburn University.  The Association of Communication Excellence gave 55 awards in eleven major areas at its recent national conference.  Alabama Extension brought home almost 20 percent of those awards.

One of Alabama Extension’s iBook titles brought home the top award for publishing from ACE–marking the first time the traditionally print oriented award has been given to a digital publication. Alabama Extension also received gold awards in graphic design for the Longleaf Pine Habitat poster and the National Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program logo. In addition, the group took home three bronze awards in graphic design.

Alabama Extension Director Gary Lemme says that a collective shift in mindset was a key to this year’s success. “This dramatic showing is the result of an innovative restructuring and reinvention of how we work,” he said.  “We have moved away from traditional publications to creative teams of scientists and communicators who build cutting-edge communications products.”

It is this team effort that Barlow credits for the success of the project. “Bruce took an idea and turned it into a beautiful graphic.  Glenda coordinated everything and made sure all the text was correct,” noted Barlow.  Faculty and staff of the SFWS and Biology were also instrumental in reviewing the design to ensure the landscape and wildlife were represented in a reasonable way.

For more information about the ACE awards program visit https://www.aceweb.org/awards.


Smith Appointed as Mosely Environmental Professor



Mark Smith, SFWS associate professor and extension specialist, has been selected for the Mosley Environmental Professorship and will serve as the Executive Secretary for the W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Awards Program Steering and Selection Committee.  For over 30 years, the awards program has given recognition for outstanding volunteer efforts in forestry, wildlife, fisheries, soil, water, air, wildflowers, non-game wildlife, environmental education, conservation, and urban forestry resulting in the wiser use of the natural resources of Alabama.  The fundamental mission of the Mosley Environmental Award is to identify and reward “unsung heroes” who have voluntarily contributed significantly to the wise stewardship of Alabama’s natural resources. To learn more about the Mosley Environmental Awards Program or to submit a nomination, please visit http://www.aces.edu/natural-resources/mosley/.






Barlow Selected as 2016 Ralph Shug Jordan Professorship of Writing

BarlowThe Auburn University Writing Center recently selected Becky Barlow, SFWS associate professor and Alabama Extension specialist, as its third Jordan Professor of Writing. The Ralph “Shug” Jordan Professorship of Writing was established by the Auburn University Athletic Department and Tigers Unlimited in memory of the beloved coach to improve writing and writing instruction at Auburn.

For Barlow, the nomination has personal significance as well. “Eleven years ago when it was determined that my son, now 17, is dyslexic, my perceptions about student writing and literacy shifted dramatically.  I began to understand how difficult writing can be,” stated Barlow. It was this perspective born from working with dyslexic students that transformed Barlow’s approach to incorporating and teaching writing skills to forestry and wildlife students.

Barlow looks forward to continuing this meaningful work with the Miller Writing Center. “I am really honored to have been awarded this professorship and look forward to promoting writing across campus, especially in disciplines like math and science where writing historically has been limited.”

Nominations or applications are accepted by tenured faculty who have demonstrated a commitment to student success through attention to writing in the core curriculum. Nominees are asked to submit an extensive packet of materials for review, including supporting letters from their department heads and deans, sample course materials and syllabi that demonstrate the importance of writing to their courses, student evaluations, and a reflective statement on student writing.

The selection committee noted Barlow’s service to the University Writing Committee, the range and quality of writing instruction she has included in her courses, her advocacy for supporting the writing initiative within the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, including working to develop a satellite of the Miller Writing Center staffed by Graduate Students in the College who are trained by the Center.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to work more closely with Dr. Barlow over the next three years,” said Dr. Margaret Marshall, Director of University Writing. “We know she has good ideas and the energy to see them through.”

For more information about the Miller Writing Center and its services, visit http://wp.auburn.edu/writing/writing-center/ .



KPNC Hosts 3rd Annual S’more Fun with Mom

Mother and son enjoying a cookout during the 3rd Annual S’more Fun with Mom.

Mother and son enjoying a cookout during the 3rd Annual S’more Fun with Mom.

The Kreher Preserve and Nature Center (KPNC), an School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences community outreach program, cohosted the third annual S’more Fun with Mom with the City of Auburn this past May. Mothers and sons shared an evening packed with arts and crafts, a cookout, hiking, roasting s’mores, and storytelling. The annual event is a Mother’s Day tradition for many families. Wendy Gray, assistant professor in Auburn University’s Department of Psychology, remarked “It is an event we look forward to each year. I appreciate the opportunity to have a night that is just for my son and I.”

The pairs spent much of the evening bonding around a fire through roasting marshmallows and laughing with each other. Guests also enjoyed a cook out dinner, courtesy of Publix and Sam’s Club, and crafting a nature themed bulletin board, in partnership with Home Depot. Participants also went on an evening nature hike in search of nocturnal animals. The groups were thrilled to sight an opossum and snake in their natural habitats.

Sarah Crim, Auburn resident and alumna of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, shared “My son and I always look forward to the S’more Fun with Mom event held at the KPNC.  This was our third year in attending and every year gets better!”  The event is an annual favorite for both City of Auburn residents and supporters of the KPNC. Becky Richardson, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City Of Auburn, remarked “We enjoy partnering with the Kreher Preserve on the S’more Fun with Mom event.  It is a lot of fun and our citizens really seem to enjoy it.”

The KPNC, established in 1993 by a gift of land from Louise Kreher Turner and Frank Allen Turner, is a 120-acre property located just north of Auburn. The preserve features five miles of hiking trails, amphitheater, pavilion, nature playground, turtle pond and many gardens and other natural features. It offers community programs throughout the year and is open to the public daily at no charge from sunrise to sunset.

Written by Katie Marberry



Volunteers Catalog Nearly Two Hundred Species During BioBlitz


Hundreds help Auburn scientists catalog local biodiversity during the day-long event.



Auburn University Department of Biological Sciences Assistant Professor and Invertebrates Collections Manager, Brian Helms, shows children one of the crayfish species found at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest during the BioBlitz held on April 23.

The Alabama Extension System and Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences in cooperation with the College of Science and Mathematics’ Department of Biological Sciences recently hosted a “BioBlitz,” on Saturday, April 23, at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest located in Auburn.

A bioblitz is a hands-on event where participants have the opportunity to learn about local biodiversity while working alongside scientists to survey plants, birds, fish, insects, and other wildlife in an attempt to record all the living species found within an area during a specified period.

Becky Barlow, an Alabama Extension forestry specialist and coordinator of the bioblitz, said that the event, which was attended by nearly 300 members of the community, was a great opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to interact with the public.

“One cool thing about the event is the public was able to work right beside scientists collecting real data,” said Barlow. “Graduate and undergraduate students took part in the event and even took the lead on some of the topics. This was a great opportunity for them to take things they have learned in the classroom and apply them when interacting with the public.”

Barlow and forestry graduate student, Seth Hunt, had long considered the possibility of a bioblitz at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest, both for its academic value and as an educational tool for the general public.

Hunt’s impending graduation and the substantial interest from other Auburn scientists across campus indicated the timing was right for the event. Stated Hunt, “It was great to get the level of involvement from professors, graduate, and undergraduate students from multiple schools within the University to help with the BioBlitz.”

“I had great fun helping lead the tree and understory events and I think that the public, students and even myself benefited from the experience. I was genuinely humbled by the turn out and hope to make the bioblitz something that continues to take place,” said Hunt.

During the daylong event, preliminary results indicated the group was able to catalog nearly 200 species, including at least 24 types of trees, 39 plants, 40 birds, 26 insects, 18 types of reptiles and amphibians, 10 fish, 12 aquatic invertebrate, 12 mammals, 10 fungi, two crayfish, and two varieties of butterflies.

School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences wildlife graduate student, Mary Bennett, appreciated the opportunity to interact with other research professionals from Auburn. “We collected a lot of great data for MOT and it was exciting to share in everyone’s enthusiasm for the event.”

Throughout the day hands-on activities were offered for children to learn about Alabama’s rich biodiversity. The Auburn University Museum of Natural History provided “fossil bags” for children to identify prehistoric insects. Other “BioBlitz Junior” activities included creating casts of animal tracks and building bird houses provided by the Home Depot.

The Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve was also on hand to provide live animal encounters of native species of reptiles and amphibians. The “Critter Caravan,” designed to be a traveling educational program offered for schools and private groups, featured such animals as the corn snake, box turtle, and the lesser known, legless lizard.

Jennifer Lolley, outreach administrator of the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve, commented, “Anytime you get 300 people out for a first time science event, it is a big success!” Lolley expressed how valuable it is to have a species inventory, particularly for an educational facility; noting that they hoped to have a bioblitz event at the preserve in the spring of 2017.

A final tally of the species found on the property will be available in the coming months. The 2016 BioBlitz was sponsored in part by Home Depot, Publix, Kroger and Sam’s Club.

For more information about BioBlitz, contact Becky Barlow via phone (334) 844-1019 or email at rjb0003@aces.edu. To view more photos, visit the SFWS photo album at Flickr.

About the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest:

Located along Moore’s Mill Road just east of Auburn, Alabama, the Mary Olive Thomas (MOT) Demonstration Forest is a 400 acre forest that is used to show landowners’ forest and wildlife management practices that could be used to enhance the value of their land. Thanks to the generosity of Mary Olive Thomas, this forest has been used by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (SFWS) since 1977 and was designated as an Alabama Treasure Forest in 1979. In keeping with Ms. Thomas’ wishes, this demonstration forest continues to be managed with the private landowner in mind, demonstrating many different land management techniques.


Mark Smith advises on wild pig management in Forest Landowner magazine

Smith - Forest Landowner May-June 2016SFWS Associate Professor and Extension Specialist Mark Smith provided advice for land owners regarding wild pig management in his recent article, Hogging the Forest, featured in the May/June issue of Forest Landowner magazine. Read the full article.









Auburn University celebrates its seventh designation as Alabama’s Tree Campus USA


Toyota Motors Manufacturing of Alabama joined with representatives from Auburn University, agencies and urban forestry professionals to dedicate the first swamp white oak during the tree planting. Seen with shovels from left to right are: Jeneen Horton of Toyota; Michelle Cole of SFWS; Dale Dickens of the Alabama Forestry Commission; Alex Hargreave, AU arborist; Tim Sullivan, University of Alabama; Bonner Lee, AU landscape architect; and Duane Lamb, AU landscape and grounds supervisor.

Auburn University celebrated its seventh designation as Alabama’s Tree Campus USA on April 5 with a ceremony and campus tree planting at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.

The Tree Campus USA program is an Arbor Day Foundation program sponsored in partnership with Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

To be considered for the Tree Campus USA designation, a school must demonstrate it supports the Arbor Day Foundation’s five core values by establishing a tree advisory committee, creating a campus tree-care plan, dedicating an annual budget for tree care, establishing an Arbor Day observance and sponsoring student service-learning projects.

The multi-departmental effort included representatives from SFWS, Facilities Management, and Landscape Services in partnership with AU’s Tree Advisory Committee.

“Having been recognized as a Tree Campus USA in 2009 and recertified every year since is a true honor and reflects Auburn University’s commitment to the care and preservation of one of our greatest resources,” said Gary Keever, professor of horticulture and a Facilities Management landscape consultant.

Auburn University President, Jay Gogue, SFWS Associate Dean of Research and Director, Center for Environmental Studies at the Urban-Rural Interface (CESURI), Graeme Lockaby, and CESURI’s Outreach Director, Michelle Cole, welcomed attendees and opened the program with remarks on behalf of Auburn University.

Jeneen Horton of Toyota Motors Manufacturing of Alabama, program sponsor, and Dale Dickens, of the Alabama Forestry Commission, formally presented the award to Auburn University as Alabama’s 2015 State Tree Campus USA.

Alex Hedgepath, Auburn’s first arborist, also addressed the group and led the tree planting with Landscape Services staff and volunteers.

Following the tree planting, attendees and volunteers participated in a networking luncheon to exchange valuable ideas and techniques to protect and promote urban forestry in the state.

For more information about the Tree Campus USA program, please visit https://www.arborday.org/programs/treecampususa/

AU staff, faculty, volunteers and agency volunteers from across the state gather for a photo after planting 50 trees on the campus.

AU staff, faculty, volunteers and agency volunteers from across the state gather for a photo after planting 50 trees on the campus.




SFWS to Celebrate International Day of Forests

INTL Day of Forests

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences will host an informational program and photo contest to commemorate the United Nations’ global celebration of forests Monday, March 21.

Created to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests, the annual International Day of Forests provides a platform to communicate the vital role forests play in poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and food security.

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences will mark the occasion with an exhibition, “Forests and Water,” highlighting how forests are vital to the supply of freshwater essential for people’s life. It will be held in the atrium March 21 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

“Many people are aware of the issues concerning global deforestation, but may not fully understand the influence of forests on the quality and availability of fresh water. This occasion provides an opportunity for SFWS to engage our community on this important function of forests,” stated Janaki Alavalapati, dean of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.

The school will also host a photo contest for Auburn University students, who are invited to share their photos of forests and tree-planting initiatives showing the world how trees, forests and their surrounding environments make a difference to communities. A panel will judge each photo based on its essence and merit, and the best photo will be recognized on April 4.  Participants may submit their photos between March 21 and 28.

Forests cover one-third of global land surface, providing key ecosystem goods and services including water, food and energy around the world. Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems that provide home to more than 80 percent of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Similarly, around 1.6 billion people depend on forests, directly or indirectly, for their livelihood.

Although forests provide numerous societal, ecological, economic and health benefits, deforestation and forest degradation continues at an alarming rate, accounting for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Sustainable management of all types of forests are at the heart of unlocking challenges of conflict-affected, developing and developed countries, for the benefit of current and future generations,” notes United Nations officials.

Key facts related to forests and water:

• 75 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater are supplied by forested watershed and wetlands.
• One-third of the world’s largest cities obtain their drinking water from forested areas.
• Forests act as natural water filters by minimizing soil erosion on site, reducing sediment in water bodies and trapping water pollutants in the forest litter.
• Climate change is altering forests’ role in regulating water flows by increasing catastrophes such as floods, droughts and landslides.

For more information about the program and photo contest, contact Shree Dangal at szs0091@auburn.edu or call (814) 880-5566.


Photo Contest Guidelines:


Photo Criteria:

  1. 70% – relevance to this year International Day of Forests theme “Forests and Water”
  2. 30% – Artistic value and Communication potential

Photo specification:

  1. Entry must be contestant’s original work
  2. Each contestant can only submit one entry
  3. Photo must be in JPEG format with at least 300 dpi, size should not be more than 10MB.
  4. The contestants must not have used the photo for other services or published in any

Procedures for Submission:

  1. File name of the image must be in the format “Lastname_Title of the image”.jpeg (For example:
  2. The following information should be included in the email:
  3. Full Name
  4. Complete Address
  5. Email Address
  6. Photo Title
  7. Date Photo Taken (Year, Month)
  8. Place Taken
  9. Any other information about the image.

Start day of Submission: 21 March 2016, Monday

End day of Submission: 28 March 2016, Monday by 12:00 PM (CT).

Any entries submitted after the deadline will be automatically disqualified. Winner will be announced on 4 April, 2016, Monday.




SDFEC’s 1st Annual Dixon Legend Trail Run a Success

Dixon Legend race winners gather for a group photo after the race.

Dixon Legend race winners gather for a group photo after the race.


The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences’ Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center hosted its inaugural 5K, 10K and Half Marathon race on March 12. The Dixon Legend provided nearly 100 racers an off-road opportunity to explore the diverse forests of the Dixon Center’s more than 5,300 acres. Open to ages 10 and up, the course offers an exceptional challenge for all fitness levels as it traverses the property’s network of dirt roads and trails through upland hardwood forests, across stream bottoms and through the rolling hills of the center’s fire-maintained Longleaf Pine ecosystems.

Trail runs or off-road races have become increasingly popular in recent years. There are only a handful offered in the state and this race promises to be one of the more scenic. Local race director Jennifer O’Neal says of the race, “If you are looking for a great run to get you off the main road, this is it. No traffic, dogs or confusing routes to deal with. Just some trails in the middle of God’s country with the sounds of birds singing and breezes blowing through the trees.”

Realizing the untapped potential of the facility for just such an experience, Robin Kelley, race organizer and owner of Auburn’s RaceKrewe, jumped at the chance to be involved. “The Dixon Legend is a unique opportunity, truly one of its kind with the course set entirely on the beautiful trails and unimproved roads of the Dixon Center. It’s truly a win-win for the racers and the center.”

According to the Dixon Center Director, Joel Martin, “Over the last 10 years, we have increased the center’s occupancy rates tremendously with its core users. Though to be fully self-sustaining, we are encouraging other groups to use the facility. This race was created to expose the center to a different set of outdoor enthusiasts and hopefully, some of them will find it to be an ideal event venue for their business, organization or family.”

The 2016 Dixon Legend race was made possible with the generous support of the following local businesses: Thomas E. McMillan Jr., Longleaf Energy Group; Dalton Tire and Auto; Covington County Bank of Andalusia; Southern Pine Electric Cooperative; First South Farm Credit of Andalusia; Taylor Linens; Dean’s Cake House, and the U.S. Food Service.





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