CLEMSON UNIVERSITY COOPERATIVE EXTENSION COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND LIFE SCIENCES
The South Carolina Women Owning Woods Network: Using Forestry and Natural Resources to Educate and Empower Women
Enhancing the South Carolina Women Owning Woodlands (SC WOW) program by providing resources for targeted, advanced trainings to women landowners
Why this Project Matters
In the United States, private families and individuals own about 60% of the nation’s forested land, and for about a quarter of private family or individual woodland ownerships, a woman is the primary decision maker. Evidence suggests that women will play a large role in the future of forests, making final end-of-life land use decisions that could lead to conservation or development. Forestry remains a male-dominated field in a professional, personal, and social sense, which means that women may lack experience and knowledge with woodland ownership and management.
Ownership objectives among women who purchase or inherit woodlands vary, ranging from privacy and aesthetic enjoyment to generating income from timber extraction. The Women Owning Woodlands (WOW) Network in South Carolina is recruiting, engaging, and teaching female participants about sustainable forest management. Also, because women tend to inherit property later in life, getting them involved when they are younger and more physically active will potentially lead to them implementing more forest management practices over the course of their ownership. Preparing women to take a more active role in management of family forests will provide the skills needed to manage forests sustainably.
How the Project Is Using Forestry and Natural Resources to Educate and Empower Women
To address the needs of educating women forest owners and supporting women in forest leadership roles, the WOW program was established as a collaborative project of the National Woodland Owners Association and the United States Forest Service. This project will build on the success of a pilot program by offering additional workshops in more advanced topics. The WOW network will facilitate specific skills development for women including chainsaw and pesticide safety. Using other state WOW networks as models, Clemson University, with support from the Forestry Association of South Carolina and the South Carolina Forestry Commission, has formed the SC WOW network to provide training and educational opportunities for women who own or have an interest in woodlands management. Clemson will enhance the SC WOW program by offering additional forestry 101 workshops in new regions, developing new educational content, and continuing training a group of WOW network facilitators.
To encourage an interest in forestry among women from a younger age, scholarships will be offered to 10 high school students to attend the South Carolina 4-H Forestry Clinic. This weekend-long event is an excellent opportunity for high-school-aged youth to learn more about forestry and forest practices. During the clinic, participants will gain hands-on experience from Clemson University professionals.
The SFI Community Grant Program is supporting this project. SFI’s previous collaborations with WOW and the expertise of the SFI network will also be leveraged to support his project.
How this Project Builds SFI Community Engagement
The project team will communicate with and leverage the SFI network to build mutual understanding in the communities where they operate about the benefits of sustainably managed forests and products. The project will grow meaningful relationships with Indigenous, African American, and underserved communities to advance social, economic, and environmental opportunities. Professional development for educators, loggers, architects, and other influencers will be made available to enable them to make informed decisions and take responsible actions. The project also offers outdoor activities and advice on green career pathways for youth through a collaboration with South Carolina 4H.
This partnership includes conservationists, communications professionals, and SFI‑certified organizations.
About Clemson University Cooperative Extension College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences
Clemson University was established to fulfill its founder’s vision of “a high seminary of learning” to develop “the material resources of the state” for the people of South Carolina. Clemson Extension helps improve the quality of life of all South Carolinians by providing unbiased, research-based information through an array of public outreach programs in youth development, agribusiness, agriculture, food, nutrition and health, and natural resources. With offices in all 46 counties of the state, Extension works to help support South Carolina’s $42 billion agriculture and forestry industries; strengthen families and communities; improve stewardship of natural resources and the environment; strengthen connections between people and their food; and expose South Carolina youth to opportunities in agriculture, science, technology, engineering, and math. Learn more.