- Additional Plants: trees, ornamentals
- Crop Production: forestry
- Education and Training: technical assistance, extension, focus group, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, value added
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, analysis of personal/family life, social networks, sustainability measures
A multi-state, multi-institutional research and education effort promoted sustainable forest management to underserved landowners in the South-Central U.S. This research and extension effort involved 1862 and 1890 land grant institutions, consultant foresters, landowners, state and federal agencies, and others in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Twelve focus group sessions were conducted during 2002 and involved 97 landowners. Focus group information provided the basis for developing the mail questionnaire. Mail questionnaires (n=6,000) were used to gather information about landowner educational needs pertaining to forest management. Sixteen forest landowner workshops were attended by 1,302 landowners that valued the information received at $6.8 million. The project produced a workshop format that can be used as a template for successful educational programs in almost any state.
The long-term goal of this project was to enhance the management of farm and forestland owned by underserved landowners in the South-Central U.S. This required more knowledge of underserved landowners, what motivates them, their management experiences, and the marketing techniques they use in selling timber. This knowledge will enable us to develop and implement effective programming techniques designed to meet the needs of this audience. Improving basic marketing skills will lead to enhanced economic viability of forest landowners and an improved quality of life for individuals and families in this region.
This effort used both research and outreach components to accomplish the goal through the following objectives. Research objectives were to:
a) estimate the number and additional socio-demographics of individual forest landowners in various underserved categories (i.e., race, gender, age, education, tenure of ownership, acreage owned, ownership objectives, others);
b) assess landowner attitudes, perceptions, and use of sustainable forestry practices (use of management/marketing assistance, regeneration of harvested areas, and knowledge of Best Management Practices; and
c) determine the most effective means of stimulating the involvement of owners in educational programs, resulting in changed behavior.
The outreach objectives were to:
a) utilize our research results to develop, conduct, and evaluate educational programs (workshops) in the south-central region to address the needs identified by underserved landowners;
b) develop an evaluation methodology to evaluate the short- and long-term effectiveness of these workshops for underserved forest landowners; and
c) utilize research and evaluation results to produce a “model” workshop for use in other regions.