On a colorful fall weekend in October 2011, twenty-one women landowners headed out to Camp Susque in Trout Run, PA for the inaugural Women and Their Woods Educational Retreat. Most attendees hailed from Pennsylvania while others made the trip from New York and West Virginia. The four day educational retreat was facilitated by Allyson Muth, Forest Stewardship Program Associate at Penn State University, Amanda Subjin, Stewardship Coordinator for the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, and Nancy Baker, Pennsylvania landowner.
Attendees were selected through an application process focused on women who would be willing to attend the retreat in order to become mentors for other women landowners across their regions. The women bunked together, shared meals, and learned in group settings through dynamic and fun hands-on workshops and field trips. We were fortunate to have presenters representing diverse organizations such as the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Penn State University, USDA Forest Service, Oregon State University and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The Retreat was the culmination of a series of prior workshops and events across the state. In 2008, the Delaware Highlands Conservancy realized that due to demographic trends, increasing numbers of women are becoming the owners and managers of forestland. Because women landowners often feel they lack the knowledge to make informed decisions about land, the Conservancy, in partnership with the USDA Forest Service at Grey Towers, began offering educational programs targeted to women forest landowners, and Women and Their Woods was born.
Post-retreat, participants are building on the momentum of their experience and employing the knowledge they have gained to increase education about the value of forest land and sound stewardship practices among other women forest landowners in their communities. The Conservancy and Penn State University will continue to provide educational outreach to the women mentors and support them in creating their regional Women and Their Woods groups.
Plans are underway to offer a follow-up event in the spring and a second retreat next fall. Applications for the 2012 retreat will be going out in the spring. In the meantime, you can view photos of the retreat by visiting the Delaware Highlands Conservancy’s Facebook page. For more information about Women and Their Woods contact Amanda Subjin at the Delaware Highlands Conservancy by phone (570-226-3164) or email ([email protected]).