Iowa Master Woodland Steward Program

The Iowa Master Woodland Steward Program (MWSP) is primarily intended to serve woodland owners, stewards, and land managers, but may also be of interest to school teachers, loggers, and government employees. The overall goal of the program is to develop a community of highly motivated and knowledgeable woodland stewards, to act as champions of forests and forestry within the state of Iowa, and work with management professionals in improving and expanding woodland resources. 

Watch the MWSP promotional video here!

The MWSP features 30 hours of intensive forestry training focused on managing woodlands for multiple benefits. The MWSP consists of seven modules, each entailing approximately one hour of self-paced online prework, followed by a three-hour in-person field/classroom session. In both classroom and hands-on field sessions, you will be provided basic information on: tree identification, tree biology, land and tree measurements, woodland inventory, silviculture, forest economics, tree planting, wildlife habitat, pest management, timber marketing, government assistance programs, and stewardship planning. The program is sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, often in cooperation with County Conservation Boards.

Cost for each program is tentatively set at $75, and includes a forest management textbook and complimentary forestry gear. Instructors include experts from Iowa State University, ISU Extension and Outreach, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, private forestry consultants and contractors, and a range of other natural resource professionals. The provided networking opportunities with forestry professionals and forest stewards are unparalleled within the state of Iowa! 

“This program is a great way to help Iowans know the true value of their woodlands, not only in terms of timber, but also the many other benefits forests provide,” said Billy Beck, assistant professor and extension forestry specialist at Iowa State. “My hope is that participants will become better informed on how to ask the right questions, of the right people, at the right time. This includes having intelligent conversations with their forester.”

MWSP offerings: 2024

Two offerings of MWSP will occur in 2024! The first offering will be co-led by the Hamilton, Story, Boone and Webster County offices of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISUEO), and is tentatively set to run from early April to mid-May, 2024. The second offering will be co-led by the Linn and Johnson County offices of ISUEO, and is tentatively set to run from early September to mid-October, 2024. The latter offering will place special emphasis on derecho recovery and resilience - due to the significant regional impacts of the 2020 severe weather event.

The programs will entail seven educational modules spread over a six-week period. Each module will consist of approximately one hour of online self-paced prework, followed by a three-hour combination classroom and in-field session. Class/field sessions will be held in-person, at a variety of locations within and adjacent to respective host counties. You do not need to be a resident of host counties to participate. Module synopses and general in-field/classroom schedule may be seen below:

  • Module 1: Overview of Iowa’s Forests and Forestry. Become knowledgeable on Iowa’s forest resources, and be able to communicate the value of Iowa’s forests and forestry to our state.
  • Module 2: Planning and Goal Setting, the Foundation of Woodland Stewardship. Know the incredible range of what’s possible with forestry – and how to start the planning process.
  • Module 3: How Trees Grow (physiology and silvics). Be able to relate key concepts of tree growth to a wide range of forest management practices.
  • Module 4: How Woodlands Grow (forest ecology). How to know your site, and what that means for species growth and management potential.
  • Module 5: How Woodlands Change (stand dynamics and silviculture). Forests change through time – we’ll discover drivers of this change, and how we can influence change to meet management goals.
  • Module 6: Putting it Together: Woodland Management (achieving your management goals). We’ll explore specific management goals of timber, wildlife and water quality. In-field case studies.
  • Module 7: Program Wrap-up and Skills Recap field day. Recap of key concepts and skills, and graduation celebration!

The program has limited space, so early registration is recommended. 

Questions regarding the Story-Boone-Hamilton-Webster County offering, including registration inquiries, should be directed to Sue Schmitz (ISUEO Hamilton County;; (515) 832-9597).

Questions regarding the Johnson-Linn County offering, including registration inquiries, should be directed to Shannon Bielicke (ISUEO Johnson County;; (319) 337-2145) or Hailee Sandberg (ISUEO Linn County;; (319) 377-9839).

General questions regarding program content, format, and/or future MWSP offerings should be directed to Billy Beck (Extension Forestry Specialist, ISUEO; 515-294-8837;

We'll see you in the woods!