Meet the Land Steward Class of 2017!

April 7, 2017
Land Steward Class of 2017

We welcomed 21 new volunteers into the Volunteer Land Steward Program last weekend, in a two-day training that gave them the know-how to help steward a Forest Society forest reservation.

Trainees learned about their role as stewards from Volunteer & Community Engagement Manager Carrie Deegan.

On day one, attendees learned about the history of the Forest Society, how to be a community ambassador, trail maintenance, and other typical land steward tasks. The group posed great questions to staff; it was evident many of them had spent plenty of time in the woods already. However this training is essential for stewards to understand how the Forest Society cares for land and how they can help in their new role.

Trainees hiked while discussing trail improvements.
 While most of day one was spent inside- new stewards got to stretch their legs during a hike to discuss best management practices for hiking trails. Cleaning drainage structures, dealing with hazard trees, and even good pruning techniques were discussed.

Many trainee-stewards chose to stay overnight at the venue and enjoy dinner together. This year it was especially convenient, as the group woke up to 14 inches of fresh snow covering the ground for the second day of training!

These stewards were prepared (as any outdoors-person should be) and strapped on snowshoes and gaiters to thrive in the midst of a spring blizzard.

Managing Forester Wendy Weisiger, smiles back as the group heads into the woods on the tail-end of the storm.

On day two of training, attendees learned about sustainable timber harvesting, reading survey maps, and compass skills. Although the morning was spent inside, the group put the gear back on for a trek in the woods after lunch. Trainees received help measuring their paces before heading into the woods on snowshoes. The last activity of the day was to use a compass and survey map to follow a boundary line. The trail we used looked much different with new powder. It was a good example of why good trail blazing is important to keep hikers on the trail in all seasons!

Gabe Roxby and Steven Junkin,field foresters, explain the difference between trail blazes and boundary blazes.

After returning from the final boundary activity, trainees were dubbed official Volunteer Land Stewards for the Forest Society! The new class of 21 land stewards will now contribute to the stewardship of forest reservations alongside the 24 previous annual classes of trained land stewards. 

This training was a success- even in the face of unexpected weather, thanks to the supporting staff that thought quickly and used local resources to adjust the second day of training after the snowstorm made travel difficult. Our new volunteers showed their giving spirit right away by sharing homecooked food, helping to shovel, assisting other trail users, and lending equipment.

It was a great group to be snowed-in with! 

New Lands Stewards thrived during the April Fool

More information: Volunteer Land Steward Program

or contact Land Steward Program Coordinator Jenn Seredejko at