Thinking back and looking forward

December tends to be a time for reflection for me. It is a time of cold weather, hot tea, and sitting in my favorite chair thinking about the past year. This year I have been reflecting on what I have accomplished and trying to not compare that list to “before 2020”. This year I didn’t put in a garden, but I added new pullets to my flock with no fatalities. I didn’t tackle the brush piles on the side of our garage, but I found and removed some invasive plants on the north side of our property.

The safer-at-home order was maddening at times, but it motivated me to work on projects I had been putting off. During my reflections this week, I decided to jot down some action items to keep me motivated to work on my property during the lull of the new year:

(1) Collect your thoughts

(2) Take notes on your experiences

(3) Set your 2021 goals and plans

(4) Check back with us in 2021

Join me in bringing this crazy year to a close by planning how you will care for and enjoy your woodland in 2021.

Collect your thoughts

If you are able, take a walk through your woodlands to reflect on what you have learned and accomplished this year. Did you learn how to identify invasive plants from one of our online Learn About Your Land classes? Did you use that knowledge to start flagging some patches of honeysuckle or buckthorn? Did you spend most of your time cutting firewood? Were you pulled away from your woodlands to care for loved ones or grandchildren during the pandemic?

Take a break, take a walk, and reflect on how you were able to use and care for your woodlands this year. If you have time, consider a short exercise in Forest Bathing or make it your new year resolution to do the Sit Spot Challenge with us in 2021.

Take notes on your experiences

After you collect your thoughts, take a few moments to jot some of them down. If you get stuck, ask yourself any of these questions about your accomplishments:

  • What did you plan to do this year? From that list, what did you accomplish and what did you miss out on? If you missed out on something, is it still important?
  • What did you read or learn about that sparked your interest?
  • What connections did you make with resource professionals or other landowners? What did they suggest that you want to follow up on?
  • What topics did you learn about? What topics would you like to learn more about?

Set your 2021 goals and make plans

Once you have taken some notes, jot down a few tasks you’d like to accomplish on your property in 2021. Consider starting by month or by season to make the tasks seem more manageable. Below are some suggestions on where to get started:

If you are interested in learning more about topics like tree planting, wildlife in your woods, or tree ID, check out our 2020 Learn About Your Land class recordings. If you don’t have time to watch a class but are still interested in these topics, check out our Forestry Minute YouTube videos. Can’t find a topic you’re interested in? Email us at and we will put it on our To-Do List for 2021.

If you are interested in reading short publications by your woodstove check out our extensive publication library where we provide information on everything from cutting firewood to soil health.

Interested in more actively managing your woodlands in 2021? Check out this resource on getting started with a management plan. In this blog we walk you through how to ask yourself important questions and craft a vision statement for your property before contacting a forester. If you are interested in planning but want to know what plan options are available check out this short overview of plan types.

If you are interested in speaking with a forester about your goals, check out our recent blog about how to prepare to meet with a forester. If you are ready to talk about your woods and your goals use the DNR Forestry Assistance Locator to find a forester in your county. This website will also help you understand the differences between different types of foresters if you are unsure of which to contact.

Check back in with us in 2021

Our team also reflected on our activities in 2020 and set goals for 2021. Specifically, we examined our popular Learn About Your Land Classes which we were unable to hold in person. 2020 taught us that being flexible in our approach, by testing out the virtual classroom, has allowed us to continue providing you with important woodland information despite not being able to meet in person. To continue this, we have decided to expand Learn About Your Land into a virtual Zoom classroom throughout 2021.

We also examined our Woodland Info website and realized that information about our classes may not been easy to find. We are currently working on our website to make it easier to find information about our classes, access our publications, and read our exciting seasonal blogs. Until then, please continue to enjoy the Caring for your Woodland website you have come to know and love, and be sure to check out new recordings on our YouTube Channel.

Have a joyful new year and check in with us in 2021 to see how we are putting our reflections into action.