MN Women’s Woodland Network – How it All Began!

Originally posted by Angela Gupta, University of Minnesota Extension, Rochester in 2008 and updated by Barb Spears, TWF Consulting, LLC and the MN Women’s Woodland Network in 2015

There’s been some exciting activity around engaging female forest landowners in Minnesota. For years there’s been anecdotal information about the lack of women participants in forestry learning. Indeed, far more men than women attend Woodland Advisor classes and other woodland educational events. 

Why would this be when there are more women in the United States and research tells us women live longer? 

The University of Minnesota Extension provided seed money to create a steering committee in 2008 to address this issue. As a result, 15 engaged women met at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and learned about female forest landowner education programs in Maine and Oregon, studied what little research is available on forest landowners and gender, reviewed the literature on how men and women learn differently and discussed the need and opportunity to reach women woodland owners in Minnesota.  Thus, the Minnesota Women’s Woodland Network was born!

Photo by Julie Miedtke, September 10, 2008

Photo by Julie Miedtke, September 10, 2008

 Since the first steering committee meeting in September 2008, subsequent steering committee meetings and activities around the state have occurred including the formation of several local networks; the publication of an informational brochure that outlines the vision, mission and goals of the network; events sponsored by the MNWWN; articles in newsletters and magazines; and, the subsequent development of a more formal organizational structure.  A major accomplishment was the completion of the “Minnesota Women Woodland Owners Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) Study” in June 2014.

All of this was made possible through several grants and a lot of staff and volunteer effort! 

All activities of the MNWWN are open to anyone who is interested, but they will be very women-friendly and women-focused.  Organizers create a safe and engaging environment for women to ask questions, explore topics they’ve never thought about before, and meet other like-minded women with which to learn and build relationships on the topic of woodland care and management.

Photo by Barb Spears

Photo by Barb Spears

Many thanks go to Angie Gupta, University of Minnesota Extension, Rochester and Julie Miedtke, University of Minnesota Extension, Grand Rapids for providing the leadership and support for the Minnesota Women’s Woodland Network and having the vision and guidance to bring this important initiative to Minnesota!