Need Suggestions to Jump Start Family Communication? (part 1)

Not long ago, we had a question about suggestions on how to encourage communication with the younger, or future, generation of owners in a family about intergenerational transfer possibilities.  The question could have as well been from the future generation on how to begin to communication with the current or older generation about the same issues.

Below are some suggestions we have used in our Landowner Legacy Communication© seminars.  All come from our own experiences and from those of families with which we have worked.

A few of the suggestions are in this post with the remainder in a subsequent one so check back later for the complete list.

First, someone has to begin the conversation which may not be as easy as it would seem.  If no one is asking questions, then either or both generations may be considering the other as well informed and satisfied or just not interested.  Typically, the current generation has to take the lead.  The future generation may feel awkward about taking the first step and feel they are being pushy or aggressive.  The current generation may find it difficult to discuss their death, and in most situations a discussion now about transfer of assets across generations inherently implies someone is going to die.  So it is just natural that developing a culture of family communication across generations related to a change in ownership will be hard for all generations in many families. Continue reading

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Involve the next generation before it is too late!

Two questions that are asked in many of our Landowner Legacy Communication© workshops, is “how do I get my children involved in our land” and “how did the Nippers do it.”  In reality, they are the same question.  In my opinion, if the current generation will consider many of the items in the list below, it will improve their chances of a successfully involving the next generation.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Do it now!  Don’t wait.  Waiting increases the probability that the details of your family’s transition will not be at your disposition, but at someone else’s.
  • Do not assume the next generation is or is not interested.  Ask them!  Listen to what they say. Write down their suggestions.
  • Do treat sons and daughters the same.  Do not assume daughters are not interested next generation assignmentbecause they may be the most important ones to be involved.
  • Do establish goals for the family and the land with input from the next generation.
  • Do not suppress any attempts the next generation makes to open the discussion on transitions.
  • Do think globally and be very open to all suggestions.
  • Do answer all questions about any transition plans and opportunities even if thnext generation working3ey are difficult to explain.
  • Do take the responsibility of identifying assignments related to the land and its management to which the current generation can take meaningful ownership.
  • Do expect the next generation to be responsible for any assignments made and accepted.
  • Do not get hung up on the small details and not accomplish anything.
  • Do encnext generation working4ourage the next generation to participate in self-improvement and education related to the land.
  • Do develop fun activities with the next generation on and about the land.
  • Do encourage your family to share their “wealth” from the land with
    others.  Wealth does not have to mean financial wealth; it could be knowledge, experience, tours, stories, pictures, etc.

Remember the more the next generation is involved now, the more the future shape of the family Tree Farm is established.

Photos courtesy of and NMS.

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Dirt is just dirt, or is it?

Lately, we have been spending a lot of time learning and reviewing our soil’s (polite way to say dirt) effect on our tree farms and their timber crops.  Soil types, soil maps, site index, nutrient levels, erosion potential, suitability for supporting forestry operations, and on and on have been part of those discussions and considerations.  While all of those are important, and while we try to make sure everyone in the family has some knowledge of the soil, the one overriding issue above all the scientific aspects is . . . . . . . .

AR dirt under fingernails (3)

. . .  the dirt under our fingernails is the same dirt that was under the nails of our great-grandfather, grandfather, and father.  In order to make a living, both my family and Allen’s family for the last 75 or more years have worked the same soil we now work.  Whether they grew timber, cotton, cattle, or whatever is not so important now, but it is special to know that our hands are “soiled” by the same DIRT that our ancestors had on their hands.  And our children and grandchildren have that same dirt under their fingernails as well.

While dirt may be just dirt to some, this dirt is special to us!  And because it is special, we do everything possible to protect it.

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Successful Tree Farm Tour

Thank you to everyone that attended and supported our American Tree Farm Tour.  It was a successful day with more than 60 individuals attending, and more importantly, we were able to finish the tour before the rain started!  We especially appreciated the attendance by representatives from the offices of Representative Tom Cotton (R, AR-4) and Senator John Boozman (R, AR), which indicates their commitment to Tree Farm and private landowner forestry operations.

Almost 60 percent of those attending were private landowners just as we are.  Those attending represented over 8,000 acres of timberlands and were from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.

A special thanks goes to our family for all their support, help, and participation in the planning and execution of the tour.

Thanks to all the organizations and individuals that supported us with their time, effort, and, in some cases, donations.  If possible, please support them with your business:

      • American Tree Farm System (ATFS) – Mike Burns, Washington, DC
      • Arkansas Forestry Association (AFA) – Max Braswell, Little Rock, AR
      • Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) – Josh Smith, Magnolia, AR
      • Arkansas Tree Farm Committee – Jennifer Johnson, Little Rock, AR
      • Columbia County Farm Bureau Insurance – Stephen Zorsch, Magnolia
      • Community Coffee – Greg Aldridge, Baton Rouge, LA
      • Construction Safety Products – Amy Lesko, Shreveport, LA
      • Deltic Timber Corp. – Scott Milburn, El Dorado, AR
      • Hargrave Forestry Management Service – Wade Hargrave, Batesville, AR
      • Kingwood Forestry Services, Inc. – Pete Prutzman, Arkadelphia, AR
      • Landowner Legacy Communication – Ginny Nipper, Addis, LA
      • Steve Koskie CPA, LLC – Steve Koskie, Homer, LA
      • Webster Parish Farm Bureau Insurance – Clay Johnson, Minden, LA
      • Weyerhaeuser Magnolia Nursery – Mike Waxler and Brian Finch, Hot Springs / Magnolia, AR

The topics and presenters that were discussed at various locations were:

      • Farm histories – Allen Nipper
      • Farm management plans – Allen Nipper
      • Growth Plots – Weldon Nipper
      • Diseased trees and cut or not cut decisions – Caroll Guffey (University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service) and Allen Nipper
      • Prescribed burning – Josh Smith (AFC) and Wade Hargrave (Hargrave Forestry Management Service)
      • Weather affecting prescribed burning – Emilie Nipper
      • Water quality issues for landowners – William Nipper
      • Boundary maintenance – Weldon Nipper
      • Benefits of Arkansas Forestry Association – Max Braswell (AFA)
      • Benefits of American Tree Farm System – Mike Burns (ATFS)
      • Landowner benefits from AFA / ATFS – Allen Nipper
      • Teacher Conservation Tour benefits – Elisabeth Nipper
      • Oil-gas production issues for landowners – Allen Nipper

If you want more information on any of the topics discussed, please let me know.

It is always good to get comments from attendees, and while I probably should not brag, we did get some excellent ones.  Below are those we heard or received in a written form.

      • “Best forestry tour I have ever been on.”
      • “You all are amazing!!!”
      • “Last tour you had was great and this one exceeded that one.”
      • “Great to see how all of your family is involved.”
      • “You should be using some Arkansas built vehicles for state biz!”  (If they would have been offered, we would have.  Also, the tour was not “state biz,” as it was a tour on privately owned land hosted by private landowners.)
      • “I am going home to tell my family we need to do prescribed burning.”
      • “I’ve been on a lot of tours, and this was one of the best for a lot of reasons.”
      • “You guys model your intentional efforts of working together as a family.”
      • “Nice touch with the flowers and doughnuts.  Wish the coffee pot had worked.”
      • “Thank you and your family for the wonderful program you had at your farm.  Everyone around me really appreciated the event and the information shared.”

If you were not able to attend the Tree Farm tour and would like to visit our Tree Farms, please contact me.

Below is a group of pictures taken during the tour by various individuals attending.  Thanks to all of those that contributed these pictures.

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My start; yours similar?

I was about ten years old on my first trip to our timberlands.  Not long after that, I recall thinking “How am I going to remember where all this stuff is?” as we drove and walked to the various tracts.  We twisted and turned our way around single lane back roads, all the time my dad talking about various forestry topics, and to be quite honest I was lost in more ways than one.

However, over time and many, many more trips to our land I started picking up on where each tract was, the names of the individualboundary paint tracts, the ways in and out, and so on.  This was especially important when I turned 15 and could drive my dad to the land on those early mornings.  Many times he would nap during the trip so I had to know where to go!  While the repetition of going to the land and working on various tasks helped me learn, it was the getting involved with the overall operation that really got me interested in what was going on.

One thing my dad did was provide me with something fun to do on the land that was . . . Continue reading

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