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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Q&A Recap of Back to the Real Forest!

July 14, 2021
Wildlife specialist Marne Titchenell showing participants a cover board. Cover boards are a monitoring tool for reptiles and amphibians. Marne lifts a cover board looking for salamanders. Cover boards are a monitoring tool for reptiles and amphibians. Here Marne Titchenell lifts a cover board looking for salamanders.


On July 9 the Ohio Woodland Stewards (OWS) Program headed back to the real forest for a day of outdoor learning.

Meeting on the Ohio State Mansfield campus participants embarked on a day of exploration - observing and learning about wildlife habitat needs and challenges, how to identify different trees, and various woodland issues with an emphasis on invasive species. 

Find out how the day went and what participants discovered and learned in this Q&A recap with School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) forestry expert Kathy Smith and wildlife expert Marne Titchenell.

Both experts are with Ohio State University Extension - the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and provide learning and engagement opportunities for woodland owners and others interested in gaining greater knowledge on a wide variety of topics related to our Ohio woodlands and the management and care of them. Amy Stone, an educator with OSU Extension was also on hand to share information on invasive species - specifically sharing how to identify them, report them and their impact on our woodlands. 

Q&A Recap of Back to the Real Forest!

SENR:  How many joined the class?

OWS:  We had 25 individuals for the day – the max we had set for attendance.  We did have a couple of people on the waitlist as well.

SENR:  Nice turnout! Can you share a bit about the topics covered and what the class observed? 

OWS:  We spent some time introducing what we have on the campus then walked parts of the horseshoe trail talking about invasive plants (Buckthorn, Autumn Olive), emerald ash borer, woodpeckers, and woodland amphibians.  We had a couple of odd growths on trees that we also walked participants through some diagnostics to decipher what may be happening.

We also walked through the crop tree demo area talking about why we implemented what we did and looked at new deer exclosures and a new brush pile that was recently constructed by our summer interns. 


Brush pile in forested area at Ohio State Mansfield. Brush piles built by interns help create cover for wildlife like rabbits and other small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. 

Learn about Controlling Non-Native Invasive Plants in Ohio's Forests: Autumn Olive via OhioLine.

Learn about Crop Tree Management via OhioLine.

Learn about Brush piles via Habitat Network.






SENR:  What's unique about this forest? 

OWS:  The horseshoe trail has our large horseshoe shaped vernal pool which is a pretty unique area on campus.

SENR:  Can you tell me more about this trail?

OWS: The trail winds through a mixture of woodland components.  Some is older growth that existed when the campus was constructed in 1964. There are several impressively large swamp white oaks around the horseshoe vernal pool. There are a couple of pine plantings along the trail and someone planted a couple of American chestnut trees within one of the plantation rows.  One chestnut is showing signs of chestnut blight disease but the other still appears healthy but who knows for how long.  It has quite the variety of things to see and hear. Pileated woodpeckers are often heard calling in these woods, and a red-shouldered hawk nests in these woods almost every year.


Read about the vernal pool in this CFAES news release on a workshop held in 2016.

SENR: Anything surprising going on in the forest?  Or did you see anything you didn’t expect? 

OWS: I can’t say there was anything surprising on our end but some of our participants were surprised how little deer browse we had in one area (horseshoe) while there was more in the crop tree demo area. We did see a wood frog near the vernal pools. This wasn’t surprising, but many had never seen one before, so that was neat.


SENR: What do you hope that participants came away with? 

OWS:  I hope we answered their woodland questions since the day was a relatively free flowing event.  Extension Educator Amy Stone talked extensively about spotted lanternfly so I hope there too they walked away with how they can help with the scouting for this pest.

SENR:  What's coming up next for the Ohio Woodland Stewards program or what are you excited about? 

OWS:  We have our next in person program August 20 (at Ohio State Mansfield) and we are hosting a webinar in September about making syrup from black walnut.


Kathy Smith

Marne Titchenell

Learn more about the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program.