Posted: 05/02/2024

CAPTION: Forestry Academy Class of 2024: Lucas Newby, Escambia County; Harris Carter, Dallas County; Chris Ott, St. Claire County; Tim Roberts, Jefferson County; Tally Keith, St. Claire County; Todd Langston, Jackson County; Jacob Hill, Pike County; Josef Greene, Shelby County; Logan Hicks, Autauga County; Dave Holley, Shelby County; Carson Riley, Chilton County; Charles Stuart, Montgomery County; Tyler Robison, Marion County; John Shank, Geneva County; Tripp Thrash, Pike County; Josh Asherbranner, Morgan County; Jeffrey Johnson, Baldwin County; Greg Brewer, Macon County; and Brad Lang, Academy Director.

A total of 18 Alabama Forestry Commission employees graduated from the 2024 Forestry Academy at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center in Andalusia. The graduation ceremony was held on April 26 to commemorate the students’ completion of eight weeks of intensive study and exercises in forest protection, forest management, and teamwork building.

Composed of recently hired AFC employees from 15 counties across Alabama who serve as either foresters or forest rangers, these academy graduates are returning to their work units with a wealth of knowledge that will last the entirety of their career. They have also built friendships with their classmates, reaching a new¬found level of camaraderie.

State Forester Rick Oates encouraged the graduates to reflect on the three facets of their experience at the Forestry Academy: Safety, Service – serving the people of the state through forest management, protection from wildfires, and storm response – and finally, Community Involvement.

Assistant State Forester Will Brantley congratulated the 18 graduates on their achievement and noted the sacrifices, made by both students and instructors, to complete eight weeks of Forestry Academy. He also recognized the Solon Dixon Center staff and Auburn University for their willingness to provide the perfect forestry setting for this learning experience, noting that the training venue had become the AFC’s ‘home away from home.’

The keynote address for graduation was delivered by Ms. Connie Rowe, Senior Advisor to Alabama’s Lieutenant Governor. She gave a generous amount of influential advice and challenged the students to be aware of the significance of relationships, the choices they make, and their overall outlook on life moving forward.

Since 1924, the mission of the Alabama Forestry Commission has been to protect and sustain Alabama’s forest resources using professionally applied stewardship principles and education, ensuring that the state’s forests contribute to abundant timber and wildlife, clean air and water, and a healthy economy. For more information about the Alabama Forestry Commission, visit the AFC website at