Posted: October 8, 2020

As for everyone, it’s been an interesting time at the Center for Private Forests at Penn State during COVID restrictions. Fortunately, we’ve been able to complete much of our work remotely and continue to engage at the intersection of people and forests.

In March, right before Penn State sent everyone home, Sara Banker joined us full-time as the Forest Stewardship Project Coordinator. She is supporting the PA Forest Stewards volunteer program and contributing to other resources under the stewardship umbrella. In addition, she continues to coordinate the Forest Landowners Conference and the Walk in Penn's Woods effort. We're glad to have more of her time and contribution to our team!

We continue to create trainings and materials to engage new audiences to help people plan for the future of their forestland. The Center received a two-year National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to expand legacy and estate planning education and create communities of planning professionals, conservation professionals, and peer volunteers who can work together to help forest landowners move toward more concrete plans. The initial training for each audience will happen remotely this fall and winter. Eventually we will bring participants together face-to-face to build the forest legacy planning community within a geographic area. Products created for this work will include workshop curricula and a Best Practices for Forest Legacy Planning publication, that will allow us to carry this workshop across the state. If you're interested, you can find some of our other forest legacy planning resources on our website (https://ecosystems.psu.edu/legacy). Other applied research projects serving private forests and forest landowners and creating resources to help conservation organizations care for working forestland continue as well, and we'll share more in future updates.

For the first time since 1991, we've taken our annual PA Forest Stewards training into the virtual realm. On September 17, 24 new peer volunteers joined us for the first of six online educational retreat sessions. We've adopted the flipped classroom approach, which uses asynchronous presentations fitting the participant's schedule, and our time together used to expand on ideas, discussion, and questions and answers. We hope in the next year to bring these new volunteers together in one place for a field day. Women and Their Woods educational retreat also went virtual this year with 22 women participating.

The annual Walk in Penn's Woods has turned into an individual/family event throughout the month of October. Along with our partners, we're encouraging folks to get out during October, exploring public forestlands around the state, and sharing their explorations with us using #mywalkinpennswoods on social media. We hope you'll join them and us in this annual celebration of Penn's Woods. Be safe in the autumn woods and wear your blaze orange.

Graduate students Abby Jamison and Sasha Soto carried their work forward remotely as well. Abby's research—understanding the relationship between forest landowners and foresters as compared to landowners and peer volunteers—continued even as she was unable to interview folks face-to-face. Abby is starting to analyze her data in anticipation of completing her master's in 2021. Sasha is working to get the 2020 statewide Forest Landowners Survey out the door. This work will contribute significantly to her research on the guidance and motivations landowners seek to confirm they're doing good things for their land. We'll be excited to share the results of these important studies.

Best wishes for a safe and glorious fall wherever you are.

Center for Private Forests

Address

416 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Center for Private Forests

Address

416 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802