Brenda Woodard, a retired U.S. Forest Service forester and a landowner in Douglas County, is the daughter of a former Lane County Extension Forester, Steve Woodard, who was the Oregon Tree Farmer of the Year in 2004. He lives on the tree farm that has been in his family since his grandfather purchased it in 1948. “His vision and passion are what inspired my husband and me to become forest land owners,” she said.
“We got my father to go to a succession planning workshop with us because he really wasn’t comfortable talking about this and was putting off his planning. Going gave us tools to start the conversation and good advice, like having regular family meetings and paying family members that work on the land,” said Brenda. “Dad shared what we learned at the workshop with the grandkids. It stirred them up, got them thinking and gave them permission to talk about this.”
Like many family forest owners the Woodards are sometimes frustrated with how long this process takes. “The grandkids are in their career building years but, gradually, they’re finding ways to connect that fits into their lives. One grandson has set up a blog to keep everyone informed and where we can share ideas.” Every July 4, Brenda and her husband Dale put on what they call Camp Cuyler, inviting all the potential heirs and their extended families. “They just bring their tents,” she said, “and we provide the food, camping site and everything else. We try to pick different activities each year, each one having something to do with a different aspect of forestry or type of management. We’re trying to create curiosity about forestry as well as pleasant memories and an attachment to a piece of land.”