Master Woodland Steward Program to Be Offered in Spring and Fall

Seven educational sessions will cover forest planning, tree growth and long-term forest management

February 23, 2024, 9:44 am | Billy Beck

AMES, Iowa – Woodland owners and land managers can improve their knowledge of Iowa’s woodland resources this spring and fall by participating in a hands-on training program offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The Iowa Master Woodland Steward Program will offer seven learning modules spread over a six-week period, with a combination of online self-paced prework, followed by three-hour educational sessions that include classroom and in-field learning.

Presentation in a forest.The program will be offered April 4 through May 16 by the Hamilton, Story, Boone and Webster County offices of ISU Extension and Outreach. The program will also be offered September through October, led by the Linn and Johnson County offices. All in-person sessions are 6-9 p.m. at a variety of woodland sites within host counties.

The Master Woodland Steward Program is geared toward woodland owners, woodland stewards and land managers, but may also be of interest to school teachers, loggers and government employees.

The goal of the program is to develop a community of highly motivated and knowledgeable woodland stewards, to act as champions of forestry and work with forestry professionals to care for and expand woodland resources.

“This program is a great way to help Iowans know the true value of their woodlands, not only in terms of timber, but also the many other benefits forests provide,” said Billy Beck, assistant professor and extension forestry specialist at Iowa State. “My hope is that participants will become better informed on how to ask the right questions of the right people, and at the right time. This includes having effective conversations with their forester.”

Each module will consist of approximately one hour of online self-paced prework, followed by a three-hour combination classroom and in-field session. Class/field sessions will be held at a variety of locations within and adjacent to respective host counties.

Participants do not need to be a resident of the host counties to register. The cost of registration is $75 and should be done as soon as possible, due to space limitations.

 Modules and in-field/classroom plans

  • Module 1: Overview of Iowa’s Forests and Forestry. Gain knowledge of Iowa’s forest resources and learn to communicate the value of Iowa’s forests and forestry to our state.
  • Module 2: Planning and Goal Setting, the Foundation of Woodland Stewardship. Learn the incredible range of what’s possible with forestry – and how to start the planning process.
  • Module 3: How Trees Grow (physiology and silvics). Learn how to relate key concepts of tree growth to a wide range of forest management practices.
  • Module 4: How Woodlands Grow (forest ecology). Learn how to know your site and what that means for species growth and management potential.
  • Module 5: How Woodlands Change (stand dynamics and silviculture). Forests change through time – participants will discover drivers of change and how they can influence change to meet management goals.
  • Module 6: Putting it Together: Woodland Management (achieving your management goals). Explore specific management goals of timber, wildlife and water quality. In-field case studies.
  • Module 7: Program Wrap-up and Skills Recap field day. Recap of key concepts and skills, and graduation celebration.


Register with the counties where the program is being held.

  • For the Story-Boone-Hamilton-Webster County offering, contact Sue Schmitz in Hamilton County at or 515-832-9597.
  • For the Johnson-Linn County offering, including registration inquiries, contact Shannon Bielicke in Johnson County at or 319-337-2145; or Hailee Sandberg, Linn County at or 319-377-9839.
  • General questions regarding program content, format or future MWSP offerings should be directed to Billy Beck at 515-294-8837 or 

Shareable photo: Morgan Davis, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, speaking during a 2023 session of the Master Woodland Steward Program.

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