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MN Women’s Woodland Network

By Angela Gupta, University of Minnesota Extension, Rochester

April 2014 Update:

Photo by Julie Miedtke

Photo by Julie Miedtke

MN Women’s Woodland Network Gathering

On Friday, March 14 nineteen women woodland owners gathered in Bemidji to “talk trees”, learn more about caring for their woodlands, meet with female natural resources professionals, and learn about the MN Women’s Woodland Network and how they can become involved or start a network in their local area.

Many stories were shared and questions asked about woodland management and we played a woodland version of the TV game “Jeopardy” to quiz participants on their woodland knowledge.  There was also a speed networking session where Jana Albers (DNR Forest Health Specialist), Sue Brokl (Consulting Forester), Katie Haws (Retired DNR Non-game Wildlife Specialist), Julie Miedtke (UMN Extension Forester) and Marge Sella (NRCS District Conservationist) moved between 5 tables every 15 minutes for direct dialogue with participants.  One exciting outcome of this day is the start of a MN Women’s Woodland Network in the Bemidji area with several women volunteering to help plan upcoming events or host a walk in their woods.

The toolkit “Growing Your Peer Learning Network: Tools and Tips from the Women Owning Woodlands Network” produced by Oregon State University was used to help plan this gathering.  The toolkit “focuses on the nuts and bolts of designing, forming, holding, and maintaining a peer-learning group, whether the group you want to reach is women woodland owners or any other group of people who have similar goals for learning.”

Funding for this event was provided by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the University of Minnesota and Oregon State University to help develop women woodland networks nationwide.  A similar event is being planned with the WI Woodland Owners Association on April 26 in Steven’s Point, WI.


Original post: 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

MWWN chainsaw course 2011

Why? There are more women in the United States. Research tells us women live longer. During the Intergenerational Land Transfer class we learn about how important it is to get the whole family involved in forest management and ownership to ensure the desired long-term outcomes. So where are the ladies? Why aren’t they attending classes? Are they participating in forest management decisions?

The University of Minnesota Extension provided seed money to create a steering committee to address this issue. As a result of 15 engaged women learning about female forest landowner education programs in Maine and Oregon, studying what little research is available on forest landowners and gender, and reviewing the literature on how men and women learn different the Minnesota Women’s Woodland Network was born. As I type work is being done to get an informational brochure together, work on the Network’s new website, and plan eight kitchen-table-gatherings across the state to try and engage these elusive ladies. The mission of this network is sustaining privately owned woodlands through education.

So how, you ask, is the MN Women’s Woodland Network different from the Woodland Advisor program- the Extension program that teaches forest landowners about forest management? Excellent question. Network organizers plan to nurture this network of active forest landowners through women friendly, low-key, learning activities that increase their comfort level enough to join the traditional Woodland Advisor classes and participate completely. This Network will not parallel Woodland Advisor classes, but rather help feed ladies into those classes and help get a more equal gender representation (and equal lines for the bathrooms). Also, hopefully this network will form into active groups of women that regularly meet and discuss forestry topics together; the more synergy a group can form the more sustainable and active they’re likely to be.

Now you’re wondering: How can the University of Minnesota, an equal opportunity employer and provider, offer classes only for women? Another great question. First, anyone can attend these gatherings but they will be very women friendly. Organizers plan to create a safe environment for women to ask questions, explore topics they’ve never thought about before, and stretch their wings by flying through their forests.

Are you getting excited about this network? Do you know of women who might be interested in joining? I hope so! If you would like to get involved or know someone we should contact directly, please get a hold of either me: Angela Gupta, 507-280-2869, or Julie Miedtke, 218-327-7365,  We’d love to hear from you!

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12 Responses to “MN Women’s Woodland Network”

  1. Judith Carlson says:

    This is so exciting. I have several women wanting to attend anything to help their forest land. The Nemadji is getting harvested so fast that it is overwhelming for them to see.

  2. Frannie Weber says:

    I heard about you at the U of Mn Extension workshop last Saturday. Great idea and want to be a part of this network. Plese put me on the mailing list.

  3. Julie Miedtke says:

    Hi Frannie,

    Thanks for the note and interest in our new program. We are trying a new type of website and we’ve just posted some upcoming programs that might be of interest.


    Let me know if you have problems finding it–Julie

  4. Frannie Weber says:

    I know that you are meeting Thursday, June 9.
    Can you tell me what time and where?
    Frannie Weber

  5. Marge Sella says:

    The MN WWN will be hosting an Evening Walk at Camp Vermilion,Lake Vermilion, Cook, MN on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 from 6-9 pm. The camp has done several forestry practices to restore and manage their woodlands. Come join us as we explore the changes and discuss how you can manage your woodlot. A small fee of $10.00 will be collected. For more information contact Julie Miedtke, 218-327-7365,

  6. Karen Schreifels says:

    Hi Minnesota Women’s Woodland Network, My name is Karen Schreifels, presently I live in Minneapolis and yes I do own some acres along a creek/Snake river and 40% of the property is wetland. As of now I am trying to get an approach and driveway put into the property so I don’t fall anymore through the ditch, (taking a few minutes to get my body up) Ha! Ha!, as I try to get into the property. In March I attended a workshop put on by Pine SWCD at Tobies Resturaurant in Hinckley, for the first time. I truly enjoyed it and met others that have some wooded property. So would like to hear more about your network, for I am trying to gather more information on how to take care of the land. So whatever information you can share would be appreciated. Thank you for your time and efforts. Karen S.

  7. […] management goals and priorities than male owners? What are their information needs? How can the Minnesota Women’s Woodland Network (MN WWN) better meet those […]

  8. […] about trees and woods. There’s no cost and everybody is welcome. We’d love to have you join us! Details are here, or contact Barb Spears (, 651-328-0463), who is coordinating the gathering, for […]

  9. Kandie Kirkekdahlen says:

    Excited to see ‘Memory of Trees’ in 10/13 MN Women’s Press & Barb Spears article as well. I moved back to St. Paul last summer after twenty years up North. My forty in Pine county has no well, no buildings, just beauty and possibilities. ‘Possibilities’ does not include development. I was sorry I had to miss the workshops in Bemidji where others came to share their wisdom and questions. I look forward to other gatherings.
    Kandie Kirkedahlen

  10. Karen Schreifels says:

    Hi Kandie, I just dicovered your comment you made about missing the Bemidji conference, and I felt the same way. When I saw that your 40 acres were in Pine County, I got excited, for that is where my little acerage is located. Bear creek is at the end of the property, runs into the Snake River, fun to canoe. Hope you don’t mind me plugging in, just wanted to connect with another Pineasoten (made that word up). Enjoy your land. Karen S.

  11. Kandie Kirkekdahlen says:

    Hey Karen, thanks for the note! My property is west of Rutledge, and my little Rhine creek, when it has water in it, runs, I forgot where. I have no buildings or a well on my land, you?
    I do hope there is another gathering, and that it fits into both our schedules.
    I just moved down to St. Paul last summer, was living North, thirty miles south of Duluth.

    A big hooray for spring,
    My email is

  12. Karen Schreifels says:

    Hi Kandie, I have no buildings or well on the property either. Just this last fall or so I had a 421 foot driveway and approach put in. Have a little round about area to camp. When I purchased it, it was solid woods and brush you could hardly walk through. I have cut a few trails and have a little camp fire area heading towards the back of the property, that’s about it. Enjoy, hopefully good weather ahead. Karen S.

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