Woodland Steward Training Program 2019-2020

Learn to transform degraded woodlands into healthy, biodiverse, productive habitats through hands-on, ecologically sound techniques. This part-time program is equally suited for the professional and the layperson, for landowners and land stewards, activists, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. No previous experience required.

Fall/Winter session: October 14, 2019 – April 13, 2020

Program Objective:

To provide foundational knowledge and practical skills for those interested in learning how to manage wooded and semi-wild areas in ways that can meet human needs, improve biodiversity, restore woodland health, and regenerate degraded landscapes.

We can expedite environmental restoration by increasing variability in forest structure and habitats. By understanding our role as stewards of the land, and by using techniques based on the behavior of animals that used to inhabit this area, we can expedite increases in biodiversity and the carrying capacity of our semi-wild lands. By restoring our relationship with the land, we can remember the true meaning of what it is to be human–that we are a part of nature, not outside of it. Our future, and the future of this planet, depend on the choices we make today.

This opportunity features:

  • Convenient location – Centrally located between Lancaster and York, one mile off of Route 30
  • Part-time learning to allow time for employment or other commitments
  • Simple, small scale, intensive, hand-tool based techniques
  • Small class size (program is limited to 4 per session)
  • Classroom time and homework to reinforce the ecological principles of the hands-on work
  • Personal toolkit (see below)

The Woodland Steward Training Program Includes:

Hands-On Training –  175 hours (25 weeks, 7 hours per week)

Participants will work alongside Horn Farm Woodland Steward Wilson Alvarez in the woodlands and riparian areas of the 186 acre Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education. This is an opportunity to learn to integrate semi-wild spaces with perennial agricultural production. Participants will explore ways to restore ecosystem health by applying the principles and techniques of disturbance-based forest management. We will practice hands-on techniques for working to restore the land. Topics covered include:

  • Forest ecology
  • Historical land uses and misuses
  • Land regeneration design and implementation
  • Disturbance-based forest management
  • Agroforestry system design, installation, and maintenance
  • Coppicing
  • Riparian buffer design, installation, and maintenance
  • Cultivating woodland plants
  • Invasive species management
  • Designing habitat for keystone species
  • Water movement
  • Mapping
  • Use of hand tools
  • Tree & plant identification
  • Animal tracking
  • Insect identification
  • Data collection

Program participants will engage in 6 hours of woodland work (and periodic classroom training) per week from October through April (with winter weather taken into consideration as needed). Program consists of one seven-hour session on Monday of each week from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Classroom Training:

Time will be spent in the classroom to introduce foundational concepts and reinforce training. Classroom time will be emphasized when inclement weather prevents outdoor work. Part of this classroom time will involve a research component – participants will take on a relevant research topic to study, learn, and present to the rest of the group. 


Participants will receive their own set of tools to maintain, keep track of, and gain comfort and proficiency with use. This toolkit includes professional grade axe, woodland hoe, bow saw, and loppers. Participants will be fully responsible for their own tools and will take their kit with them at the completion of the internship.

Expected Outcome:

Participants will leave the program with practical skills in woodland restoration and maintenance, an understanding of ecological succession, and the knowledge and skills to implement regenerative land management practices on other properties.

Program Fee: $750.00 (Payment plan available as needed)

Click here for application.

For more info please contact educationdirector@hornfarmcenter.org, (717) 757-6441

About the Instructor:

Wilson Alvarez is a certified permaculture designer, inventor, gardener, skilled tracker, bowyer, nature-awareness instructor, and writer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For the past fourteen years, he has taught classes and workshops on bio-intensive agriculture, regenerative technology, foraging, hunting, trapping, tracking, and wilderness survival. Wilson has studied through the Wilderness Awareness School via the Kamana program, and he received his Permaculture Design Certificate via Susquehanna Permaculture.