Forestry and Natural Resources Team Offers New Training Program for Owners of Small Woodlots

October 10, 2022

Janet Watt Steele- Area Forestry Agent


A new program entitled Woods In Your Backyard (WIYB) will now be offered to forest landowners in South Carolina by the Clemson Extension Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) team.  The state has 12.9 million acres of forestland, and 87% of South Carolina’s forests are privately owned. Family-owned forests account for 63% of the state’s timberland, with approximately 262,000 private forest landowners.  The largest class of landowners (158,000 or 60% of all landowners) own tracts smaller than 10 acres. These landowners report that they own their land for scenic beauty, privacy, wildlife habitat, and nature protection.  The WIYB program targets this group, often not reached by traditional forestry education programs focusing on timber production or managing resources on larger acreages.

WIYB was developed in 2006 and is designed to help small woodlot owners develop, improve, and maintain natural areas on their property.  It became a joint effort of Penn State Extension, the University of Maryland Extension, and Virginia Cooperative Extension. Since its inception, thousands of woodlot owners have received training in these states.   A how-to manual entitled “The Woods in Your Backyard: Learning to Create and Enhance Natural Areas Around Your Home” provides the basic ecological principles for landowners and instructions to properly implement practices to enhance the natural resources on their property and develop land management objectives.  The WIYB partnership offered a train-the-trainer to forestry extension personnel across the southeast in March 2022.  Area forestry agent Janet Steele and FNR team member Carolyn Dawson attended the training and began working on ways to offer the program in SC.

Janet and Carolyn offered the first WIYB workshop in SC on Thursday, September 22nd, at the Sandhill REC in Columbia.  Twenty-three participants registered, with seven professionals earning continuing forestry education credits, certified arborist credits, and SC pesticide applicator credits.  The workshop began with an indoor session that provided an overview of the curriculum and introduced the basics of forest succession. Forest management practices that can be used to alter succession were also discussed, along with natural area practices. Dr. Cory Heaton, a wildlife specialist with Clemson Extension, discussed how participants can convert lawns and other open spaces into a natural area and what methods can be implemented to enhance natural areas for wildlife.  After lunch, the participants visited several wooded areas around the facility to complete a Woodland Health Assessment Checklist and Management Actions activity. Water resources agent Charly Greenthaler joined the group to discuss pond and riparian area management.

The next WIYB workshop will be on Saturday, October 15th, at the Hayden Conference Center at SC Botanical Gardens in Clemson.  Registration is $40  and can be completed at For additional information on WIYB and other programs being offered by the FNR team, contact Area Forestry and Wildlife Agent Janet Steele at or 839-900-1354.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.