by Angela Gupta, University of Minnesota Extension
On Friday, March 14, 2014 nineteen women woodland owners gathered in Bemidji to “talk trees”, learn more about caring for their woodlands, meet with female natural resources professionals, and learn about the MN Women’s Woodland Network and how they can become involved or start a network in their local area.
Many stories were shared and questions asked about woodland management and we played a woodland version of the TV game “Jeopardy” to quiz participants on their woodland knowledge. There was also a speed networking session where Jana Albers (DNR Forest Health Specialist), Sue Brokl (Consulting Forester), Katie Haws (Retired DNR Non-game Wildlife Specialist), Julie Miedtke (UMN Extension Forester) and Marge Sella (NRCS District Conservationist) moved between 5 tables every 15 minutes for direct dialogue with participants. One exciting outcome of this day is the start of a MN Women’s Woodland Network in the Bemidji area with several women volunteering to help plan upcoming events or host a walk in their woods.
The toolkit “Growing Your Peer Learning Network: Tools and Tips from the Women Owning Woodlands Network” produced by Oregon State University was used to help plan this gathering. The toolkit “focuses on the nuts and bolts of designing, forming, holding, and maintaining a peer-learning group, whether the group you want to reach is women woodland owners or any other group of people who have similar goals for learning.”
Funding for this event was provided by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the University of Minnesota and Oregon State University to help develop women woodland networks nationwide. A similar event was held with the WI Woodland Owners Association on April 26 in Steven’s Point, WI to generate interest in a women’s woodland network in WI.