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Reflecting on Six Years with the Master Woodland Manager Program
Nicole Strong, MWM Coordinator
It was just about six years ago to the day that I wrote my first article for MWM Gazette, introducing myself as the new MWM Coordinator. I had driven straight from Florida, happily leaving hurricanes, fire ants, and snakes behind, excited to be part of the nationally recognized OSU Forestry Extension team, and very curious about this large and mountainous state I was to call home.
A lot happens in six years. I have gotten to know this state and it’s myriad landscapes pretty well, putting over 100,000 miles on my car, criss-crossing all of Oregon several times over, from Gold Beach to Joseph, North Powder to Prairie City, visiting with many of you on your properties. After a few years of booming growth and opportunity, the housing bubble popped, causing a cascade of effects that we have all felt. Out of this need has come much innovation, such as the Oregon Woodland Cooperative direct firewood sales and non-timber forest product research, and regional interest in biomass and ecosystem services markets.
The Master Woodland Manager program has undergone some pretty big changes as well. We completely revised the curriculum in 2005, and are starting a second re-tooling right now. We doubled our training rate for a time, welcoming 166 new volunteers in 16 counties between 2005 and 2010. Our newest cadre is working with Brad Withrow-Robinson in the Polk/Marion/Yamhill area. We will begin our next session in the North Coast starting in February 2011.
Mini College is a three-day continuing education and recognition event for MWM volunteers that we hold every two years. We tried a new tact in 2009, offering intensive learning tracks, which seemed to be well received. The next Mini-College will occur in September 2011. Please fill out the on-line survey to help us plan the best Mini College yet! If you cannot access the survey on-line, please contact me and I will send you a hard copy.
The ways in which people can stay in contact, access resources, share and support each other has expanded considerably in the last few years. Cell phones and Internet have become tools we cannot imagine living without. MWM is trying to stay on the cutting edge of these technologies. Aside from the MWM website, we also have a MWM listserv, Twitter news feed and Ning (facebook for MWM’s!) community. Of course, you can still call your local Extension office or myself and talk to a real live human. These on-line tools, if not quite up your alley, could be a good way to engage kids and grandkids!
MWM email listserv:
(We have to add you to the list for you to receive or send emails to the group, this also will be the primary method of communicating when a new issue of the electronic MWM Gazette is available)
(you do not have to join to read the news feed)
MWM Ning Community:
Master Woodland Manager funding has not been immune to the regional and national fiscal situation. Our operational budget is currently 50% of what it was in 2008. We have been able to supplement this shortfall by cutting costs and seeking alternative funding, but in the end we have been forced to reduce services, such as cutting the number of classes we teach, converting the Gazette to an on-line publication, reducing the amount of time I dedicate to MWM, and charging for events like Mini-College. I am confident that we will be successful in seeking additional funding sources and will be able to return to our previous levels of service to prospective and current MWM volunteers.
How can you help MWM?
You already do so much for your woodland owner community through your MWM volunteer service, whether it is helping neighbors, leading your local watershed group or OSWA chapter, taking kids outside, or the other countless ways I know you help others. There are a couple things you can do to help MWM continue to offer tremendous learning and sharing opportunities for people such as yourself:
- Stay in touch! Let us know what you are interested in, what you would like to learn, what you need from us to support your volunteer and forest management endeavors. Your feedback is the most valuable source of information we use to improve our training and support.
- Document your volunteer work! Turn in your forms, tell us your stories, send us photos, video, whatever you have to show how you help others and how MWM has helped you. This information helps us write compelling grants and tell others the MWM story, which in turn helps us continue funding this program
- Consider giving a gift to the Master Woodland Manager Walker Family Endowment. Giving to this fund establishes long-term funding for the program.
- Get involved! I am currently looking for help planning the 2011 Mini-College. If you are interested and willing, contact me directly. We will start planning in January 2011. Also, there are opportunities to get funding for on-the-ground conservation work, like creating snags, restoring oak habitats, or developing agroforestry sites on your property. If you have a good idea, share it, we can get creative!
Thank you to all of you for your dedication to forest stewardship and Oregon’s woodland owner community. Your support and friendship over the past six years have been inspiring and I am very grateful for the positive experiences we have shared. I look forward to many more in the future.