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Land Steward Online Short Course

This expert-led course is well-suited for busy adults who enjoy online learning but also want to see stewardship in action and includes self-paced online lessons, and live Zoom sessions where you can interact directly with local experts.

Land Steward Course Overview

The Oregon State University Extension Land Steward course is designed for owners of woodlands, small farms, pasture or other rural land who want to manage their property's natural resources more effectively.

This research-based, professionally developed course will cover topics on:

  • wildfire risk reduction
  • forest & woodland management
  • encouraging and controlling wildlife
  • stream ecology
  • pasture management
  • growing healthy soils
  • rural water system infrastructure
  • rural economics and enterprise
  • stewardship planning & more!

The course includes a series of nine self-paced online lessons, plus three virtual classes where you will meet at the same time, utilizing video conferencing.

Throughout the course, you can expect to spend up to two hours per week on each self-paced online lesson and related activities. You will also complete a series of resource assessments to get to know your property better and develop a management plan for your property using our landowner-friendly template.

Land Steward Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, you will be able to:
  • Describe basic stewardship practices for woodlands, wildlife, soils, pastures, water resources, streams and riparian areas.

  • Conduct an assessment for each of these resources to identify potential resource concerns, desirable healthy conditions and potential follow-up actions.

  • Create a management plan for your property to help you meet your goals and improve resource stewardship
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View Course Syllabus


Rachel Werling

Rachel Werling is the faculty coordinator for the OSU Land Steward Progam and has been with OSU Extension since 2011. She oversees the Land Steward field training, volunteers and mentors, community education classes, and Living on Your Land conference.  Rachel developed this course with the assistance of a Land Steward advisory committee of volunteers and partners.  The Land Steward Program works with a diverse set of community partners working to support land stewards to achieve their management goals.

Rachel grew up in Minnesota on a family dairy farm. After studying environmental biology and botany at Humboldt State University, in California, she served as a forestry volunteer in the Peace Corps in Ecuador. She lived in Oaxaca, Mexico for twelve years where she stewarded three acres of land, ran a family business, and raised two daughters. Through Arizona State University, Rachel completed her Master’s degree in botany while in Oaxaca. Her thesis is an illustrated flora of native trees and shrubs. Prior to the Land Stewards, Rachel worked for OSU Extension coordinating a watershed education program. She has been teaching natural resource education in Oregon since 2008. Since moving to Oregon, Rachel has walked many wild miles of land as a professional field biologist performing inventories and assessments for plants, birds and mammals in the Pacific Northwest. She is chair of the Native Plant Society of Oregon’s Siskiyou Chapter.  In her free time, you'll find her outdoors when possible, hiking, camping, canoeing, x-c skiing, and always keeping an eye on what the plants, birds, land stewards and other creatures are up to.


Thomas Stokely

Thomas Stokely is the Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Professor in Central Oregon, serving Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. His area of expertise includes forest ecology and management, forest health, wildlife habitat and biodiversity conservation.

Thomas was raised on a horse ranch in the Missouri Ozarks where he began his natural resources path, being involved in grazing management and prescribed burns, and spending much time in the woods. He went to the University of Missouri to study Environmental Science with a land management focus, where he became interested in a career in extension to help promote conservation on working lands. Thomas came to Oregon State University for a Master’s to study the relationships between forest management practices and wildlife habitat with the Betts Forest Landscape Ecology lab and in collaboration with forest industry, state and non-governmental partners. Building upon his Master’s research, he completed a PhD in the department of Forest Ecosystems and Society and recently finished a Postdoctoral Scholar position in the department. His major career goal is to work with landowners to incorporate science into collaborative forest management for promoting the resiliency of forests and the biodiversity they contain.

John Punches

John Punches has been with OSU Extension Service since 1994, serving as an Extension Forester and in a variety of leadership roles. He has degrees in forestry, wood science, and forest ecosystems/tree physiology.

Jacob Putney

Jake Putney joined the OSU Extension Forestry and Natural Resources team in 2019, after completing his master’s degree in forest management. His expertise is in forest health, inventory, modeling, and silviculture.

Katie Wollstein

Katie Wollstein is the new Rangeland Fire Regional Specialist with OSU Extension. She serves Harney and Malheur Counties and is located at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns. Prior to OSU, Katie was working on her Ph.D. at the University of Idaho in rangeland policy and governance. Katie also holds a B.S. from Washington State University and a M.S. from OSU. Over the last several years, her work with landowners and agencies has focused on adaptive co-management of rangelands, perceptions of rangeland uses and issues (particularly grazing and wildfire), and landowner-agency collaboration. Katie enjoys cooking, the smell of sagebrush, interesting rock formations, cats, and trail running with her dog.

Brad Withrow-Robinson

Brad Withrow-Robinson is OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk counties.  He works with a diverse audience of family forest landowners, forestry professionals, farmers, conservation groups and others to help people discover, understand and apply practical information helpful in taking care of woodland resources. Some topics he’s focused on include citizen science and the Oregon Season Tracker program, native woodland conservation and restoration (including oak and riparian habitats) and succession planning for family forest landowners.

Nicole Ruggiero

Nicole works with farmers, rural residents, and community partners to implement conservation practices throughout rural Washington County. She shares her technical expertise to improve water quality, soil health, irrigation efficiency, wildlife habitat and other resources related to agriculture. Having practiced wildlife biology and land conservation in the Pacific Northwest for 20 years, she has a passion for finding natural resource solutions that support the overall health of rural communities.  A focus area of her work is the protection of farmland to keep local agriculture viable for years to come. Nicole has a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of New Hampshire and M.S. in Wildlife Science from the University of Idaho.


Brandy Saffell

Brandy Saffell is enthusiastic about elevating forest health to protect clean air and water, diverse wildlife habitat, and the local economy in the Tualatin basin. As a Forest Conservation Specialist, she assists new and seasoned forest managers with assessing forest health concerns, writing stewardship plans, improving wildlife habitat, and getting the work done. She also leads research to better understand how we can prepare forests for issues like a changing climate, wildfire, and invasive insect pests Brandy earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Florida State University and a M.S. in Forest Ecosystems and Society from Oregon State University, where she studied the impacts of disease on Douglas-fir forests in Oregon.

Before joining the Tualatin SWCD team, she worked as a forestry educator for OSU Extension, a nature guide in the Columbia River Gorge, a lab technician at a forest research institute, and a field technician at Tall Timbers Research Station in Florida

Alicia Christiansen

Alicia is the Extension Forestry agent for Douglas County. She works with landowners, forestry professionals, youth, and the public to provide outreach and communication on forestry and natural resource subjects. She teaches a variety of subjects, but her favorites include tree and plant identification, reforestation, and non-timber forest products.

Past Students' Work

Take a look at some recent projects our students have created.