AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences has created a new initiative called the Forest, Environment and Wildlife Leadership Academy.

Students involved in the FEWL Academy are co-instructed by Dean Janaki Alavalapati and Assistant Professor and Alabama Extension Specialist Adam Maggard.

“To aid in their experiential learning during the two-semester course, students will interface with a range of leadership and private industry executives, as well as policy makers in Montgomery and Washington, D.C.,” said Alavalapati.

The instructors and first cohort of students recently travelled to Montgomery for a meeting with Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and other leaders of the Alabama Forestry Association and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“We have been reading and discussing a book on leadership that outlines traits of successful leaders, as well as offering tips and insight for us to use in our professional lives after entering the workforce,” said Will Dunnam, a forestry student.

This year, the group will travel to Washington, D.C. to learn about the development of natural resource policy issues. The students will visit organizations and offices where they can witness policy development.

Qualified students in Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences who are in good academic standing and interested in developing leadership skills are invited to apply. Each year, 12 to 15 applicants will be selected to participate.

This year's program is sponsored by a private donation from Ed Sweeten, a 1979 Auburn graduate.

“I am motivated to support programs such as the FEWL Academy that will directly benefit the marketplace,” said Sweeten. “As these young professionals advance in their careers, natural resource-related industries will gain from their leadership.”