Private woodland owners have an added option for connecting with other woodland owners and educational resources. A social network site, http://CornellForestConnect.ning.com allows woodland owners to learn about the ecology and management of their property’s resources and connect with other woodland owners having similar interests. The network allows woodland owners to interact by sharing ideas, pictures, educational events, questions and answers. The network’s forum allows owners to ask questions and receive answers from technical experts based on research data and from other owners based on personal experiences. The blog allows regular sharing of information about private woodland stories that are in the news, and new educational resources as they become available. The pictures page includes tree identification quizzes, and an opportunity for woodland owners to share favorite pictures of trees, ponds, wetlands or their recent activities. A calendar is available for posting of educational events by members. Anyone can view the content of the site, but posting to the site requires an owner to join the site.
There is no cost to join the network. Access to the network is protected by the site’s integral security system that provides a filter to restrict spamming and hacking. The site’s content is monitored and moderated. To join the network, woodland owners (or any woodland enthusiast) are asked to provide limited information so the site’s use and scope of impact can be documented. There is no registration fee and the data of members will not be shared or used for any marketing or related activities. The social network site is not a commercial site and will not support sales of products or solicitation of clients. Discussion of product marketing and technical services is acceptable. All reasonable protocols for civil discourse are expected, including the ability to document or verify any technical content or assertions.
The social network site is part of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension ForestConnect program. ForestConnect is an educational and applied research program of Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension. The goal of ForestConnect is to support the sustainable production of private woodlands in New York (and beyond) through the provision of educational assistance. ForestConnect is a broad and deep program and works with numerous colleagues, cooperators, and partners. For more information about ForestConnect, visit the main website at www.ForestConnect.info
Examples of the venues used by ForestConnect to disseminate information, knowledge, and educational programs include the following:
- The social networking site described above http://CornellForestConnect.ning.com
- Publications – Free downloadable and on-line reading of resources by state specialists, colleagues, and partners
- Webinars – Monthly presentations by experts on topics ranging from timber to ponds to invasive species to silvopasture
- Workshops and Conferences (see the events calendar)
- Demonstration sites
- Trained Master Forest Owner (MFO) volunteers who will visit a private woodland and provide non-technical assistance
- CornellWoodlot on Twitter for terse announcements of recent happenings
- Applied research on university and private cooperator lands
- Arnot Conservation Education Program – for educational programming at the Cornell University Arnot Teaching and Research Forest
- On-line classes provide an opportunity for learning about topics in natural resources management. Two courses are currently available.