Scholarships provide Auburn students like Chase Seals, a double major in forestry and wildlife sciences, access to hands-on opportunities to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom. This past year, Seals received a scholarship that enabled him to attend the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences’ Summer Practicum Program in June.
A critical component of the curriculum for forestry and wildlife students at Auburn, summer practicum is a required, six-week immersive experience that takes students out of the classroom and into the outdoors at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center outside Andalusia, Ala. Students live and work at the Dixon Center and take courses that provide them with hands-on learning and help them develop the field skills necessary for a quality education and successful careers. Alumni of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences say that summer practicum is a truly transformative experience. Not only do students receive meaningful experience in the field, but also they form lifelong friendships.
This unique practicum experience is made possible through a generous and forward-thinking gift from the late Solon Dixon and his wife, Martha, in 1978. Solon’s love of natural resources, and his commitment to Auburn University and young people, created a vision that became reality when he donated the 5,350-acre Dixon family home-site and funds to create the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center. The gift stands as the largest donation of land to Auburn University and created what is widely regarded as the premiere natural resource education and research facility in the Southeast and perhaps the nation. Although it has been 40 years, Solon’s gift continues to shape forestry and wildlife education for Auburn’s students and provides an important component of their curriculum.