COSAM News Articles 2015 October Leadership Council Spotlight – Mike Forster '74

Leadership Council Spotlight – Mike Forster '74

Published: 10/12/2015

By: Lindsay Miles

Mike Forster received his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1974, majoring in geography and minoring in geology. At that time, the Department of Geography was within the College of Business. Upon graduation, he received his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and completed a tour of duty as a missile launch officer in the minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

He returned to Alabama and spent the next 25 years at the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs - Energy Division and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management - Land Division.

After retiring from the state, he went on to work in Greenville, Ala., at John F. Daughtry Engineering Inc., - DaFor Heavy Timber Fabricators.

From 1992 to 2003, Forster was the state recycling coordinator for Alabama, the role he is most proud of in his career.

“I worked primarily with city and county governments throughout Alabama providing them with federal grant funds to start or expand their local solid waste recycling programs and to assist them in finding markets and haulers for the recyclables like cardboard, office paper, glass, metals, plastics and yard waste,” said Forster. “Grant funds could be used to purchase collection containers, balers, crushers, shredders, compartmentalized trailers and curbside bins. In the early 1990s, the EPA changed and strengthened the solid waste landfill regulations causing most Alabama communities to close their local landfills and start hauling their garbage long distances to a regional landfill and pay tipping fees. It was during this time community leaders whose local landfill had closed would contact my office about starting or expanding their local recycling program.”

Forster has been a part of the Dean’s Leadership Council since 2001. He also serves on the Geosciences Advisory Board in COSAM and was a member of the Liberal Arts Advisory Council and the Law and Social Sciences Advisory Council at Auburn University.

Forster believes the greatest strengths of COSAM are in teaching and research and, specifically, hopes to see the promotion of the geosciences.

The Forsters support COSAM as well as the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in the College of Liberal Arts.

In his free time, Forster enjoys woodworking and gardening. He spends much of his time involved with the Alabama Master Gardener program operated by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System through Alabama A&M and Auburn University.

“To become a Master Gardener, I had to attend 16 half day classes over a three month period on a variety of subjects including soils, botany, fruits, vegetables, weed control, landscaping, plant propagation and many more,” said Forster.” “In addition to the course work, I had to complete 50 volunteer work hours. Since becoming a Master Gardener, I have joined the Capitol City Master Gardeners Association in Montgomery and am on the speakers’ bureau making presentations on raised bed spring and fall vegetable gardening to local schools, clubs and organizations.”

Mike is now fully retired and living in Hope Hull, Ala., with his wife, Valarie, a 1975 Auburn graduate, who is chair of the Foreign Languages Department at The Montgomery Academy. He has a son, Brian, and daughter, Ashley, both Auburn graduates, and two grandsons, Cason and Cohen.  

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