OSU helps Rogue Valley residents achieve sustainable vision for their land

Land Steward Russell Kockx (far right) and his children walk along their property in Central Point, Ore.

Oregon's Rogue Valley is an attractive spot for newcomers looking to enjoy rural life. It's also home to a large retired population, some of whom are passing their land to the next generation. These heirs and new residents, however, don't necessarily have experience owning land.

With this in mind, the Oregon State University Extension Service created the Land Steward Program, dedicated helping owners achieve a viable and sustainable vision for their land. Offered in Jackson County, the program demonstrates innovative, adult education through peer-to-peer learning opportunities and the collaborative blending of education and technical assistance. The program also offers a wide variety of classes, conferences, and events on rural living, covering topics suggested by the community, and fosters an active community of Land Stewards supporting each other to achieve their dreams for their land.

The award-winning, field-based Land Steward training unfolds over 11 weeks and includes weekly field visits, presentations from natural resource professionals, and the creation of a personalized management plan.

The program also features a series of publications in which each topic gives an introduction to best management practices and includes a simple resource assessment worksheet to help prioritize an action plan.

One program graduate said, "Every day, every season, I look at my home with a Land Steward eye and try to determine how I can do things better. And so I keep learning, keep engaging, and keep growing. There's not an aspect of my life, from growing food to serving that food to friends, that has not been touched by the Land Steward program."