Woodland Steward Series

History of the Biltmore Forest School

The Woodland Steward Series is an extension of the Biltmore Forest School, the first school of forestry in North America, begun by Carl Schenck in 1898 and commemorated by the Cradle of Forestry in America Historic Site in Pisgah National Forest.  It is a series of workshops designed to equip landowners with the tools and resources necessary to manage their land in an environmentally sustainable manner.
In 1895, George Vanderbilt hired Carl Schenck to manage forestry operations on his Biltmore Estate south of Asheville, North Carolina.  Schenck realized that he could not restore thousands of acres of eroding farm fields and poorly cut woodlands on his own, so he took on apprentices who later became his students.  The year-long program included morning lectures, afternoon field work, an internship, and a thesis describing what they'd learned.

How the Woodland Steward Series Came to Be

Approximately 84% of the forest land in North Carolina is privately owned, and 61 percent of that (11,194,000 acres) is considered to be “family forest” (an acre or more of land with trees on at least 10% of it) (USDA-Forest Service, NRS, 2008; B. Butler, 2008). “The conservation challenges for family forests are complex and multifaceted.  No organization or agency has the resources, knowledge, or credentials to meet these challenges alone.  This private land is perhaps the last frontier for extending sustainability concepts to all forests in the United States; and it is these forests that are most at risk of being fragmented and converted for development.  Decisions made by large numbers of private landowners collectively enhance or degrade the landscape (Butler et al., 2007).”
In 2002 a planning team comprised of experts from public and private agencies sat down together to determine how best to reach these private landowners, as a vast majority of America's landowners own less than 10 acres of land.  When the Woodland Steward Series was launched in 2003, the Biltmore Forest School was reopened so that participants in the workshops held throughout North Carolina were officially considered to be students of the historic Biltmore Forest School.  Similar to Schenck's format, the workshops were comprised of lectures, hands-on sessions, and follow-up assignments for participants to complete on their land.  The focus is still to share the tools and resources needed to help landowners set and reach their woodland management goals.
The workshop information, including PowerPoint presentations from the speakers, handouts, and related website links, has been compiled here.  Whether you own one acre, a thousand acres, or work with woodland landowners, you'll find information here that applies to you.  Visiting each page of the Landowner section should give you a broad overview of land management while the Trainer pages detailing the workshops are designed to each contain the information necessary to hold one of the four workshops in the series.

Contact Woodland Steward Series

Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association, Extension Forestry-NC Cooperative Extension, NC Forest Service, US Forest Service
NC Forest Service (NCFS)
1616 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, North Carolina  27699-1616
Phone: (919) 857-4842
Fax: (919) 857-4805


Service Area

Statewide Program in:
  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Office Locaters

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator