Master Woodland Manager's Program

Paul Wray, Faculty, Natural Resource Ecology & Management


Forestry extension at Iowa State University (ISU) and the Forestry Division of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) launched a new educational program in 1988 patterned after Extension's highly successful Master Gardener Program. This program was labeled the Master Woodland Managers Program. This educational program has been conducted in 34 different locations in Iowa from 1988 through 2004 involving 885 individuals. Cooperators in this program have included county conservation boards, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, county extension offices, and Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) units. In 1997, the Iowa Tree Farm Committee became a program sponsor, and, in 1998, the Iowa Woodland Owners Assn. began providing financial support through the Iowa Tree Farm Committee.


Develop a network of highly-motivated, well-trained volunteers in Iowa to assist land management professionals in the improvement and expansion of woodlands tree resources in the state.


The program is usually a multi-county effort. A total of 20-30 participants are selected and trained for each location. Programs are typically scheduled in the late spring or early fall. Course instruction focuses on various aspects of woodland management including basic tree identification and biology, ecology, land and tree measurements, inventory procedures, silviculture, protection, economics and marketing, tree planting, wildlife management, wood utilization, and other topics important to land managers. Clients are also encouraged to begin work on developing a stewardship plan for their woodland. A total of 32 hours of intensive training is provided involving both classroom and field instruction. Teaching staff typically includes extension specialists, university professors, Iowa DNR professionals, county conservation board and Natural Resource Conservation Service staff, and often RC&D foresters. A textbook, an extension reference notebook, a Biltmore stick and specific technical handouts are provided as support materials. Program format is flexible but must include 32 hours of training. The most typical arrangement involves four 4-hour evening sessions plus two 8-hour afternoon + evening meetings. A different format could be selected based upon local preferences. Participants receive a certificate upon course completion. Each graduate is then expected to contribute at least 32 hours of public service during the next two years. Service projects could include instructing youth in outdoor classrooms, developing demonstration areas in woodlands, hosting an educational meeting for other landowners, speaking on forestry topics to service groups, or assisting professionals in various ways. Volunteers are encouraged to work with local natural resource professionals in accomplishing their service projects.


Education provided in the Master Woodland Managers Program will contribute to the improvement and expansion of tree resources in Iowa by the actions and examples of these volunteer "woodland ambassadors."  Participants from the first 30 sessions have already contributed over 22,400 hours of documented public service.


106 -- Green Industry (Commercial Horticulture and Forestry)

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