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Thank you for your interest in "The Woods in Your Backyard" online course. Registration for this session has ended. Please contact course coordinator Andrew Kling at alking1@umd.edu for information about the next session.
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University of Maryland Extension and Woodland Stewardship Education program

The information and activities in the Woods in Your Backyard course really helped us set realistic goals, timelines, and priorities and gave us the confidence to start. ... This course has been a tremendous asset in getting us on course to be better stewards of our property. I would highly recommend the course for people interested in doing a better job of maintaining their land.
-Sara Y., Maryland

Thanks again for a delightfully thought-provoking class. In revisiting my property boundaries during this class, I discovered some lovely wooded areas that I had been too preoccupied in the past to notice. I was so pleased to realize that they are mine to enjoy and care for!
-- Peggy C., Maryland

Excellent class and looking forward to applying what I learned.
-Gabe H., Maryland

Excellent course. I learned useful principles that I will put to practice in my own parcel of land and that I will share with others.
-- Elizabeth M., Virginia

You have a terrific program that makes us better stewards of nature. It is hard sometimes to feel like as an individual I can make an impact ... Your course gives a little hope that acting individually can lead to systems-wide improvements.
-Betsy M., Maryland




Are you looking to become a better manager of the land you own? Do you want to learn more about your property's woodlands, such as ways to enhance wildlife habitat? The University of Maryland Extension's "The Woods in Your Backyard" online course promotes the stewardship of small parcels of land for the personal enjoyment of the owners and for the improved environmental quality for society.

This course is for you if:

  • you have 1–10 acres of land in the Eastern United States that is forested or has unmowed natural areas

  • you have a mowed lawn area that you want to turn into a woodland.

  • you are a land manager or part of a group that manages natural areas, such as a preserve or a community woodland.

One of the most effective ways you can improve water and air quality, wildlife habitat, and natural area health is by shifting areas of lawn into unmowed natural areas or woodlands. Over a period of years, this will reduce the time you spend mowing your lawn and give you more time to enjoy your family, property, and hobbies. Our ten-week, non-credit, self-paced online course will teach you how to do this, without having to attend evening or weekend workshops. All you need is your computer, the provided publications, and the desire to become a better steward of the land.

Here's an overview of what our non-credit course covers:

  • Learn why you should manage your land.

  • Map your land, and assess why you bought the land and what you hope to get out of it.

  • Understand how your land relates to the land around you.

  • Identify habitat units on your property.

  • Learn basics of tree identification, forestry, and wildlife habitat management.

  • Assess your property’s water resources, recreational possibilities, and aesthetic appeal, and ways to improve each.

  • Choose a few land management projects to help meet your goals.

  • Set a timetable and record progress.

There are no pre-requisites for this non-credit course. With a paid enrollment, each participant receives a print copy of The Woods in Your Backyard (2nd edition) and The Woods in Your Backyard Workbook. These materials include case studies of families who own woodland properties, a resource guide, and a glossary. Participants will also receive Common Native Trees of Virginia Tree Identification Guide to help them get to know the trees on their property, and a no-obligation subscription to our quarterly woodland stewardship newsletter, Branching Out.

The course includes:

  • Sections of readings assembled into five thematically-related modules that parallel the printed The Woods in Your Backyard guide

  • Activities that can be completed on line via downloadable Portable Document Format (PDF) files, or via the workbook

  • Quizzes that assess understanding of the topics presented

  • Short videos that introduce you to fellow woodland owners and illustrate key topics and techniques.

All course materials are accessible in your Internet browser through Instructure's "Canvas" content learning management system. Please note that Canvas is optimized for desktop displays, so viewing the course content on smaller devices or phones may less effective. See the Canvas Guide document, "Which browsers does Canvas support?"

  • The Maryland State Master Gardener Office approves "The Woods in Your Backyard" online course to meet the Master Gardener continuing education requirement.

  • The Maryland State Master Naturalist Office sanctions "The Woods in Your Backyard" to meet the Master Naturalist continuing education requirement, pending approval by their Program Facilitator.

  • Participants will be required to create a free University of Maryland "associate account" to access the online materials. Complete instructions for setup will be provided.

All who successfully complete the quizzes and the required activities receive a certificate of completion from the University of Maryland Extension.


We invite you to go to our course preview website. Visit https://myelms.umd.edu/courses/1214816 for an overview of the course and samples of the readings, quizzes and activities.



The Woods in Your Backyard online course logo

To register online, click on "Tickets" and follow the instructions. To register by mail, send a check for $95.00 payable to "University of Maryland" to:

WIYB Online
Attn: Pam Thomas
University of Maryland Extension
18330 Keedysville Road
Keedysville MD 21756

The University of Maryland Extension programs are open to any person and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression.

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