Young Tree Farmers Camp

Progress report for EDS23-047

Project Type: Education Only
Funds awarded in 2023: $46,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Center for Heirs' Property Preservation
Region: Southern
State: South Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jennie Stephens
Center for Heirs' Property Preservation
Steve Patterson
Center for Heirs' Property Preservation
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Project Information




The program involves two one week summer camps and a Saturday camp held quarterly will be conducted during the grant period. In late 2018, the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation™ (CHPP™) received a 25-acre donated tract of land in Berkeley County from Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust. The goal of CHPP™ is to utilize this land as a tangible example of how forestry may be used to dramatically increase the value of one’s land and expose rural and minority youth to sustainable forestry. This tract embodies many of the issues facing landowners in our forestry program. Consequently, this property will be an outside classroom –a demonstration forest—for landowners with whom CHPP™ works. The instructors will include the CHPP™ Forestry team, SC Forestry Commission, and USDA SC NRCS, and the teachings will mirror the conversations and technical assistance that they have with landowners. They will implement many of the approaches it often recommends to its landowners such as harvesting, planting/reforestation, and the associated benefits of longleaf pine. The minority youth will be instructed on basic forestry concepts including tree identification, forest products, forest measurements and compass/GPS to encourage their interest in careers in natural resources. These youth will be solicited from neighboring schools. Notice of these camps will be disseminated at project outreach events.  

Ultimately, the youth will increase their knowledge and understanding that there are certain best management practices (BMP) which are fundamental to both high value products and healthy forests. In addition, this program will assist in establishing the youth’s role in the family landownership and their critical importance and bring awareness to the wide range of environmental career opportunities open to them. Also, these minority youth will see CHPP African American foresters on staff in action in the field, which may provide an ‘AHA” moment for some youth and provoke them to seek forestry as a career.

Project Objectives:




[Forestry Events Coord., Forester & Outreach Coord.] 

50 youth will increase their knowledge of sustainability forestry and natural resources

Increase understanding that there are certain Best Management Practices (BMP) which are fundamental to both high value products and healthy forests 

3) Establish the youth’s role in the family landownership and their critical importance 

4) Bring awareness to the wide range of environmental career opportunities open to them. 


Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 On-farm demonstrations
1 Published press articles, newsletters
4 Tours
10 Webinars / talks / presentations
3 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

2 Farmers participated
3 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

Providing education and access to information is at the core of the work of CHPP™; providing legal and forestry education and services for historically underserved landowners. The building of trust has been essential to CHPP™ success because of the long-held fear and distrust among these landowners to speak about their land.  Too often, when they sought the help of the authorities or the legal system, they lost their land.  Nearly every African American heirs’ property owner with whom we have worked can tell a story of land lost. To overcome the distrust and fear of these landowners, CHPP decided to work with those already trusted in the community – the pastors and local, civic leaders.  With their imprimatur, CHPP™ routinely held education seminars in rural churches and community centers and gradually these landowners no longer feared that CHPP™ was trying to “get their land.” Due to this proven outreach method with our legal and forestry education, the established relationships with local community groups and leaders would be utilized in promoting the Youth Camp and encouraging the attendance of youth. CHPP™ will also utilize the Forestry team and Outreach liaisons that also have established relationships with landowners. Both teams will provide awareness of the educational opportunity for minority youth via word of mouth and at Forestry workshops, presentations, and other outreach events. The Outreach and Forestry teams will also establish relationships with area schools for recruitment of participants. CHPP™ established relationship with the SC USDA NRCS will also be beneficial in performing outreach and promoting the Youth Camp.

CHPP™ held the Young Camp July 17-21, 2023. During the week, students were exposed to many forestry areas and learned more about careers in forestry. The camp had 14 students for this session. CHPP™ staff foresters provided:

  • Overview of sustainable forestry practices.
  • Performing safety measures while in a forest.
  • Measuring trees.
  • Utilizing compasses.
  • Surveying.
  • Marking boundary lines.
  • Taking soil samples.

The youth saw a drone demonstration and learned how to use technology, such as GIS, websites, and phone apps, as a forester. Moreover, the students were equipped with practical skills and knowledge in other land management practices, such as silviculture. They gained a deeper understanding of forest genetics and its role in cultivating faster-growing trees. The CHPP™ forestry team also shared insights on the importance of a forest management plan, a valuable tool for tree farmers to effectively manage their land.

The camp also provided unique opportunities for personal interactions and real-world exposure. A representative from the SC Forestry Commission shared insights on forest health and protection, fire prevention, and prescribed burning, and the management of insects and diseases. A representative from the SC Natural Resources Conservation Service discussed the diverse career opportunities in natural resources. The students also had the privilege of meeting a landowner, a participant in CHPP™'s sustainable forestry program. The landowner generously shared their land and the practices implemented, highlighting the benefits and advantages of tree farming, including the acquisition of new skills and the potential for generational income for families.

The students also experienced other outdoor activities, such as a nature walk at the Old Santee Canal State Park, and had the opportunity to canoe. The students also enjoyed a day at a local zoo, Bee City Zoo, and learned more about bees and bee farming.

The last day included a wrap-up of the week and a recognition/graduation ceremony led by CHPP™ CEO Dr. Jennie Stephens.

*Attached Winter 2023 newsletter (this newsletter is an annual CHPP publication. There is an article about the Youth Camp in the newsletter. 

IMG_1938 3 (video)

Forestry Camp




Learning Outcomes

14 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Key changes:
  • forestry

  • prescribed burning

  • technological tools for forestry- GIS, apps, drones

  • taking soil samples

  • measuring trees

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
2 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

The Youth Camp program  introduced youth to the outdoors, exposed them to natural resources and sustainable forestry, and allowed them to learn about the wide range of environmental career opportunities open to them. After completion of the program, students shared information with their family members and others about best practices to manage land. Students learned how to measure forest biodiversity, tree diameters, identify plants, and learned about the management of forestland.

The education goals of the Youth Camp included forest health and reforestation, compass and GPS skills, and wildfire risk and prevention. Through these lessons, students reinforced their math, reading, writing, and language skills. Students learned how to measure and record forest attributes such as tree species, height and diameter, plant biodiversity, and risk of fire. These learned skills and knowledge of forestry lay a foundation for future tree farmers and healthy stewards of land and the environment. Students received a deeper appreciation for the forest and its ecosystems. 

Lastly, students were given the opportunity to form relationships with CHPP™ foresters and were introduced to other professionals in natural resources such as USDA SC NRCS conservationists and foresters with the SC Forestry Commission.



Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.