Forestry is historically a male-dominated field, but in recent years there has been a surge of interest among female landowners to take a more active role in the management of their woods. In response to this interest, groups are popping up all over the country that bring women together to share forest experiences and learn about their woods.
In the fall of 2019, the Watershed Agricultural Council’s Forestry Program partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties and the Columbia Land Conservancy to create Women Owning Woods—Catskills | Hudson Valley (WOW). The group met for the first time in November of that year, and since then have run regular programming, both virtually and in-person. These events have included informal gatherings, presentations and workshops, all of which are led by the interests of the group. Plant and animal ID lessons, how to grow forest crops like ginseng, and ways to manage invasive species are common topics of interest.
In the winter of 2022, the group hosted a virtual birding program that was done in partnership with New York Audubon. This program was promoted through their advertising channels, and it has been our most popular program to date; 466 people signed up to watch the webinar, approximately 150 people attended live, and 124 people have since watched the recording. The promotion from Audubon created interest not only for our birding event, but also for the group as a whole. Overnight, our Facebook group nearly doubled from 112 members to 222.
Most recently, we held a program at the Mountain Top Arboretum in Tannersville, NY, that guided WOW members through different ways to connect to their woods. We led activities on common Catskills plant ID and walked the group through various forest bathing techniques. Our future includes organizing another virtual gathering and setting up a spring program about understanding deer impacts in forests.
- 7,700 Acres Enrolled in the 480a Forest Tax Law
- Water Quality BMPs on 31 Timber Harvests
- 67 Forest Stewardship Projects on 340 Acres
- 43 Virtual Watershed Bus Tours