Beginning Forest Landowner Program

Own a forest, but not sure how to care for it? 

Illinois has 4.8 million acres of forest land, most of which, 83%, is privately owned. New forest landowners or forest landowners new to management are invited to participate and learn how to actively manage their woodlands to meet their goals with the Beginning Forest Landowner Program. 

Topics: Forest ecology, tree identification, the timber harvesting process, thinning and pruning, managing for wildlife, invasive species control, prescribed burning, and more!

There are two options for participants - a full course and a virtual short course.  

More about the Beginning Forest Landowner Program


2023-24 Course

Full Course: March 2023-February 2024

Gain experience in basic forest and natural resource management and management planning with this year-long program covering the 16 southernmost counties of Illinois. The program includes full-day instructional sessions and hands-on field days led by Illinois Extension Forestry staff and program partners. Participants gain knowledge and theory in the classroom setting and then meet in the field with a forestry professional in order to observe and participate in the implementation of forest management to increase their comfort level and understand how the theory works on the ground.

Participants will also be connected with a peer mentor and a long-term community of support. Participants take with them a package of curriculum and resources assembled by forestry professionals in southern Illinois and collected over the course of the year. This course is limited to 25 participants and priority will be given to new forest landowners, those new to managing their forest, and individuals within the program area. Plan to attend classes and field days one weekend out of each month. 

Virtual Short Course: September 2023

A series of virtual classes will be offered covering forest management and management planning for different goals. These classes will be led by forestry experts and provide the knowledge necessary to begin managing your forested land. For an additional fee, an optional field-day will be offered to gain experience and skills in the field.  

Program Partners

This program is made possible through collaboration between University of Illinois Extension Forestry and the Illinois Forestry Association, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, the Shawnee Resource Conservation & Development Area, the Nature Conservancy, the Southern Illinois Prescribed Burn Association, and the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area.

How to Apply

Interested in attending a future course course? Add your name to the waitlist to be notified when applications open. 

Contact Us About the Program