Jeff Roman Clayton IV (Student)
A nationally recognized forestry program, deeply committed faculty and a family-oriented atmosphere helped lure Jeff Roman Clayton IV from his hometown of Theodore, Alabama, to Starkville.
Though once a passionate University of Alabama football fan who envisioned pursuing his higher education in Tuscaloosa, the senior forestry major said an evolving interest in natural resources during high school—“because of my love for the outdoors”—led him to the sister Southeastern Conference university, Mississippi State.
“I toured campus and noticed how close-knit and supportive the community was,” he said, in recalling his first visit to Starkville. “It’s a large university, but the College of Forest Resources is very interconnected.”
Clayton said his initial impressions of MSU have held true throughout the last four years. He gives particular credit to David Evans, the college’s Sharp Professor of Forestry who “taught me more than just dendrology; he taught me how to become a professional.”
He added, “All the professors here are incredibly helpful and capable. Not only are they knowledgeable about the biology and ecology behind forestry, but they have real-world experience within the industry.”
In preparing for a career, the Dean’s List Scholar has taken advantage of several leadership opportunities. He has enjoyed being a College of Forest Resources Ambassador because “I love telling young people about the program, and everything that’s available to them if they decide to come here. I want to share the opportunities that I had, so they can make an educated life choice.”
Also, Clayton’s role as president of the nationally ranked MSU Bass Fishing Club “has taught me about leadership, business and marketing” because “we do a lot of our own fundraising and, last year, raised $40,000 to help with the cost of fishing tournaments.” Club involvement “has honed my abilities as an angler by giving me the chance to compete against some of the nation’s top anglers in the country.”
This is important because “my dream job would be working as a professional angler, but I also would thoroughly enjoy working in the timberland industry. I am pursuing both career paths full throttle in preparation for the opportunities that may come my way. I live my life on what my father once told me. He said, ‘Work hard, treat people ethically, and leave the rest to God.’”