December 2000 // Volume 38 // Number 6 // Research in Brief // 6RIB2

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The Oregon Master Woodland Manager Program: Comparison of 1991 and 1998 Questionnaire Results

Comparisons of a 1991 and 1998 questionnaire were performed to determine whether Oregon's Master Woodland Manager (MWM) training program continued to adequately assist participating woodland owners in meeting the demands placed on them in the management of their woodland property and in successfully performing volunteer service. Results indicated an increasing amount of volunteer service per MWM, and, while the adequacy of training and materials was deemed satisfactory, there was an increasing demand from MWMs for expanded training in several areas. Results of the questionnaire revealed that lack of knowledge remained the primary barrier in managing woodland property, thus indicating the growing importance of the MWM program as a vital link in OSU's Forestry Extension programs.

Steve Bowers
Lane County Forestry Extension Agent
Oregon State University Extension Service
Eugene, Oregon
Internet address:


The objectives of the Master Woodland Manager (MWM) training is to train non-industrial private woodland owners to improve the management on their properties through the development of a management plan and to have them contact and motivate non-active woodland owners. The curriculum was based on what information and skills the volunteers would need for improved management on their own properties and help motivate other woodland owners.

Curriculum development for the MWM program began in 1987. The initial program involved 85 hours of training to be "paid for" by an equal amount of time dedicated to volunteer service. To ensure that the program continued to meet the demands of the MWM volunteers and their clients, a survey was conducted in 1991. Oregon State (OSU) Forestry Extension members David Cleaves and Rick Fletcher developed the survey and mailed it to the state's 151 MWMs.

With the increasing number of individuals involved in the program, another survey occurred in 1998. Many of the questions that appeared in the 1991 survey were included in the 1998 survey, but additions were made to the more recent document. The survey was mailed to the state's 208 MWMs, with 104 of them returned for evaluation. In this paper, we discuss comparisons between the two surveys to assist Extension in evaluating whether the program continues to meet the needs of the MWM and their clients, and whether any changes in content may be necessary for the continued success of the program.


How many contacts were made by the MWMs in their volunteer service? Combined individual and group numbers in Table 1 were divided by the number of MWM responses in respective years. Results showed that in 1991 there was an average of 65 contacts/MWM, and in 1998 the average was 333 contacts/MWM, a 412% increase/MWM. Also, in 1998, 92% of MWMs said their contacts resulted as referrals by other individuals, 66% as a result of contacts initiated by the MWM, and 88% resulting through people directly contacting the MWM. There are no data available from 1991.

Table 1
Total Contacts
  1991 1998 Difference
Individual woodland owners 660 2177 +230
Group events (total # in groups) 4518 31922 +607
Total 5178 34099 +558

Approximately how many hours of MWM volunteer service were completed? A total of 85 hours are required of MWMs for "repayment" on their training, and both surveys show that the MWMs exceeded these requirements by a substantial margin. However, results of the 1998 survey show that MWMs were volunteering hours at an even greater rate than in 1991.

Table 2
Hours of Volunteer Service
  1991 1998 Difference
Total 4595 23,720 +419
Average 57.4 228 +293

What questions were asked of MWMs? While information on traditional forest management issues remains important, the largest increase in questions related to public and philosophical issues, marketing, and especially multiple use and legal matters, possibly a result of more diverse demographics in woodland ownership and the accompanying sundry reasons for why people own forestland.

Table 3
Most Frequently Asked Questions (total responses by %)
Question 1991 1998 Difference
Forest protection No data 88 n/a
Public issues 55 79 +43.6
Philosophical 36 63 +75.0
Economic 75 91 +21.3
Marketing 59 84 +42.4
Timber management 75 95 +26.7
Sources of assistance 72 91 +26.4
Multiple use 37 78 +111
Reforestation 80 82 +2.5
Legal 23 51 +122

What were the three questions most often asked? There are no data from 1991. In 1998, the two primary questions most often asked related to reforestation and marketing. The third most often asked question related to thinning practices, and there were a substantial number of requests for information on forest diseases. Although there is an increasing percentage of questions involving non-traditional forest management topics (excluding marketing), the greatest demand for information from MWMs continued to involve the traditional areas of marketing, reforestation, and timber management.

According to Master Woodland Managers, what are the five most important barriers to woodland management? Each topic received votes ranging from the 1st to 5th most important barrier. In order to consolidate the data, each topic is listed according to the frequency with which it was listed (1st through 5th). In 1991, 80% of the respondents stated knowledge was the most important barrier to woodland management, while 92% believed knowledge was the most important barrier in 1998. 52% and 84%, in 1991 and 1998, respectively, thought time was the 2nd most important barrier to woodland management. Knowledge, time, financial capital, regulations, and professional assistance were selected 1st through 5th, respectively, in the 1991 and 1998 survey. Barriers remained in the same order of precedence in the 1991 and 1998 surveys, but respondents were more definitive in 1998 in relation to ranking those barriers.

Table 4
Barriers to MWM Woodland Management (total responses by %)
Topic 1991 1998
Knowledge 80 92
Time 52 84
Financial capital 45 80
Regulations 24 77
Professional assistance 16 49
Poor health 13 19
Conflicts with neighbors 3 9

How well did the MWM training prepare volunteers for answering questions? Respondents were asked whether their training was "very adequate," "somewhat adequate," or "not adequate" for each forestry topic. Because the main objective to the MWM training is development of a management plan, it is not surprising that the respondents felt they were best prepared for this topic. A large percentage of the respondents felt they were very adequately or somewhat adequately trained in most of the traditional forestry topics. Areas where MWMs felt they were not at least somewhat adequately trained included marketing, wildlife management, and watersheds.

Extension personnel's primary education and experience are in forestry's traditional subject areas. Thus, they have more ability to relay that information to MWMs. Wildlife issues, business-related issues, and watershed issues are topics with which Extension personnel have less education and experience, resulting in less ability to prepare MWMs for questions arising in their volunteer service.

Table 5
Adequacy of Training and Materials to Answer Questions (by %)
Topic Very Adequate Somewhat Adequate Not Adequate
Regeneration 68 31 0
Management planning 66 43 0
Intro. to Extension 59 41 0
Silviculture 58 40 2
Assistance 52 45 3
Forest measurements 50 47 3
Marketing 46 48 6
Multiple use 45 53 2
Forest products 42 54 4
Logging & roads 39 55 6
Wildlife management 33 60 7
Taxes/record keeping 29 62 9
Watersheds 28 64 9

What improvements were made to MWMs woodland property? The largest improvement was in management planning, followed by tree planting, commercial thinning, road development, wildlife habitat enhancement, timber harvesting, marketing, precommercial thinning, stream protection, and recreation development.

In 1998, numbers were generated for each area. Improvements included: 542 acres of brushfield conversion; 478,343 trees planted; 1,174 acres of precommercial thinning; 1,234 acres of commercial thinning; 5.77 million board feet, 720 tons, and 292 cords of timber harvested; 1,248 acres of wildlife habitat enhancement; 1,226 acres of stream protection; 6,813 acres of management planning; 97.5 miles of road development; 150 acres of recreation development; 13.1 million board feet of timber marketed; and 200 acres of weed control.

The largest improvements by MWMs on their property related to the fundamental forestry topics: tree planting, commercial thinning, and timber harvesting. This was probably due to woodland owners' acquired experience on their property and the expertise of Extension Foresters in these topics. However, numbers were reported for wildlife habitat enhancement, stream protection, and recreational development, even though MWMs stated their training was only somewhat adequate in these areas (see Table 5). Although training was deemed somewhat adequate, MWMs were aware of these issues and were incorporating them into the management of their property.

Was the MWM program worthwhile? Overall, respondents continued to be satisfied with the program, although there was a slight decline in those who viewed the program as very worthwhile and an increase in those viewing it as somewhat worthwhile. Two individuals in 1998 said the program was not worthwhile. When contacted by phone, both parties stated that their answer was based on the fact that they were already active in managing their woodlands and could not attribute an increase in activity on their property to the MWM training.

Table 6
Was the MWM Program Worthwhile? (by %)
  1991 1998 Difference
Very 81 75 -24.3
Somewhat 19 23 +12.7
Not too much 0 2 +200

What subject areas would MWMs like to see changed? Respondents were given the choice of whether they would like to see an "expanded" or "reduced" change or "no change" in each subject area of the program's curriculum. They could also record a "don't care" response. 40% of the respondents requested additional training in the area of marketing, and 7% requested a reduced subject area in watersheds. Percentages were based on total responses, and some subject areas were not completed. Thus, individual topics do not add up to 100%. No data are available for 1991.

Table 7
Subject Areas to Be Changed (by %)
Topic Expanded Reduced No Change Don't Care
Marketing 40 2 40 6
Forest products 38 1 47 3
Silviculture 36 3 50 2
Forest measurements 35 2 52 3
Multiple use 34 2 47 3
Management planning 31 0 52 5
Regeneration 30 1 52 4
Taxes & recordkeeping 29 1 47 9
Watersheds 27 7 53 3
Logging/roads 25 4 56 5
Wildlife management 24 4 53 3
Intro. to Extension 23 6 56 2
Assistance 23 3 56 5

Table 5 suggests that a large majority of MWMs felt they had been adequately trained to answer questions. However, Table 7 suggests they are requesting more information on many of the subject areas in which they believed they were already well prepared. One exception is in marketing, where they cited an inadequacy in training and a need for expanded training, reinforcing the argument that people become interested and concerned when money is involved. This supports the belief that people will put their efforts where their interests and expertise are found.


In 1991, there was an average of 65 contacts/MWM, increasing to 333 contacts/MWM in 1998. This represents an increase of 412% per MWM and a 568% increase in the total number of contacts. Volunteer service showed a very large increase in average and total hours, with a 416% (23,720 vs. 4,595) increase in total hours and a 300% (57 vs. 228) increase the average hours/MWM.

While the largest percentage of questions asked of MWMs relate to assistance, timber management, and economics, the fastest growing areas of interest were in legal issues, multiple use, and philosophical issues. The smallest increase was in questions relating to reforestation.

Barriers to woodland management changed very little from 1991 to 1998. Knowledge, time, and financial capital were the top three reasons in both surveys, with knowledge the number-one choice. A substantial number of votes went to the concern of increased government regulations, and very little interest was expressed regarding poor health or neighbor conflicts.

In 1998, rating the adequacy of training and materials for MWMs to answer questions from their clients showed them best prepared in areas including management planning, regeneration, and silviculture. The survey also revealed that they were least prepared in the areas of taxes and record-keeping, marketing, watersheds, and multiple use management.

Specifically, MWMs were most able to answer questions closely relating to management planning (68%) and least able to answer questions closely relating to taxes (28%) and watershed management (29%). Less than 50% of MWMs felt training was adequate for answering questions adequately in matters relating to marketing, forest products, logging and roads, wildlife, watershed and multiple use management, and taxes and recordkeeping. In questions asked by clients, the largest increase comes from concerns regarding legal, multiple use, philosophical and public issues, and marketing.

What subject areas should Extension Forestry be emphasizing in the future? Marketing and multiple use were the leading areas about which MWMs expressed a need for more information. Currently, there is no specific training in the MWM program for the other leading topics listed (legal, philosophical, and public issues). After marketing at 40%, forest products and silviculture received 38% and 36% votes, respectively, as areas in which expanded information should be provided.


One of the primary objectives of the MWM program is to enable Extension personnel to focus their energies in areas other than individual private woodland owner contacts. With MWMs assisting Extension Foresters in woodland owner questions, it is essential these volunteers receive the best training possible to enhance the credibility of the MWM program. This will result in a positive experience for the MWM volunteer and reflect positively on Extension Foresters as a whole, both to the volunteer and the woodland owners they are assisting.

It is not surprising to find that woodland owners are better prepared to manage their property and answer questions posed to them by their clients in areas of management planning, regeneration, and silviculture. The reasons for this may be twofold. First, woodland owners are "hands-on" kinds of people and already have some experience with planting and managing trees. Second, OSU Extension personnel are primarily trained in subject areas in which their clientele naturally excel. Taxes, marketing, multiple use, and watersheds are areas that require "book learning," and/or are areas where woodland owners have little experience. In addition, these subject areas have fewer Extension personnel with the education and experience to develop training materials.

Extension Foresters are providing MWM volunteers with an adequate supply of training and information as it relates to traditional forestry topics. Also, increasing diversity of woodland owner interests will require additional knowledge and training for both the MWM volunteer and the Extension Forester in other non-traditional forestry topics. Finally, MWM volunteers are given training and information on forestry subject matters, but they do not receive training in volunteer service. For example, training in presentation skills and practicing mock interviews could enhance the MWM volunteer's effectiveness as it relates to woodland owner assistance.

MWMs stated that lack of knowledge remained the primary barrier in managing private woodlands, indicating that Extension Foresters must play an even more active role in educating woodland owners and training future MWMs to assist them in this endeavor. However, with 12 Forest Extension agents serving over 80,000 woodland owners throughout Oregon, it is very difficult to provide information that meets the requirements of all these individuals. Because the MWM program plays a vital role in Extension's task of providing pertinent forestry-related information, thus enabling woodland owners to improve the management of their forests and help motivate other woodland owners to do the same, attention should be paid to find a solution this problem.