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 individual 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 . . . within my interests after the work was done. This was typically squirrel hunting or shooting targets if it was not hunting season. For example, if I was to paint property lines in the morning, I could hunt while waiting for the dew to dry or shoot targets after painting was finished. While those “rewards” or “incentives” might be viewed differently by others, they got a young boy to do the work needed.
Over time though, I gained a sense of ownership in maintaining the property lines and other tasks that became my responsibility, and I began to gain a sense of ownership in the overall operation. In fact, maintaining property lines is still one of my responsibilities to this day.
I know I am fortunate enough to have gotten involved at an early age, and not everybody has that luxury. Many of my interests have always been centered on being outdoors, so it was possibly a little easier for me to move into that role within the family operation. But there are a lot of different ways to get family members involved with your land. Try outdoor activities to get family members connected to the land such as riding ATV’s, watching or hunting wildlife, photography, or maybe even doing some work. The key is to start as early as possible and maintain the involvement.
What are some ways you have used to connect your family members with your land? Email your suggestions to me (firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact button above), and I will include them in a future post.