Creating an Environment for Students From Diverse Backgrounds to Thrive in Natural Resources Careers
Why this Project Matters
A 2019 US Census Survey found that fewer than three percent of foresters and conservation scientists identify as Black American. There is a general lack of awareness of green jobs among communities of color and a corresponding lack of awareness of the many contributions to forestry made by these same communities. This helps explain why Auburn University faces challenges recruiting students from diverse backgrounds. Through Auburn’s Minorities in Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) program, the Auburn University College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment is striving to create an environment where students from diverse backgrounds can thrive and grow in the many career paths that the natural resources field offers. SFI and MANRRS formalized a partnership aimed at ensuring young Black Americans have greater opportunities for rewarding careers in the forest and conservation sector at the end of 2021 with a signed memorandum of understanding.
How This Project Will Help Attract Underserved Youth to the Forest and Conservation Sector
Auburn University will increase awareness of career opportunities in the forest and conservation sector through a train-the-trainer model that focuses on a new one-of-kind resource—the SFI-PLT-MANRRS Black Faces in Green Spaces: The Journeys of Black Professionals in Green Careers guide. The guide is designed for middle and high school students, pre-professional youth, parents, and natural resource professionals looking to increase diversity within the natural resources professions.
This is a first-of-its-kind career resource guide developed in partnership with SFI, Project Learning Tree (PLT), SFI’s educational initiative, and MANRRS. The guide introduces young people to the many jobs in the forest and conservation sector. Within this guide, 22 Black professionals currently working in the sector share their green career journeys in hopes of inspiring the next generation. The guide offers a range of resources, including green career factsheets that summarize the top 14 jobs in the green job sector with salary ranges, skills, and education needed for each career.
This project will also support a Junior MANRRS Leadership Institute, which will be used to engage students from Tuskegee University, a historically Black university in Alabama. A three-day program builds the pathway for future forestry and natural resources students, along with a week-long Natural Resources and Sustainability Summer Leadership Academy.
The SFI Community Grant Program is supporting PLT Facilitator training. In addition, Auburn University hopes to have its students become PLT-trained to help with the forestry exposure programs that they host in the community. These programs are used to attract youth to the forest and conservation sector.
This partnership includes Auburn University faculty, Tuskegee University faculty, forestry professionals, teachers, and SFI and PLT staff.
- Project lead: Auburn University’s College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Project Learning Tree
- Minorities in Natural Resources and Related Sciences program
- Tuskegee College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences
Black Faces in Green Spaces: The Journeys of Black Professionals in Green Careers
News Release: New Publication Helps Young Black Americans Explore Career Paths in the Forest and Conservation Sector
Memorandum of Understanding between the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences
Auburn University’s Rural Studio