Using a natural disaster to understand the educational and technical assistance needs of small-scale forest landowners

  • Nancy A. Connelly
  • Peter J. Smallidge


Natural disasters occur in all forests, and may provide an opportunity for forestry extension educators and natural resource professionals to reach landowners with education and technical assistance. The 1998 ice storm that hit northern New York State, USA in January 1998, was used to assess the educational and technical assistance needs of forest owners. The degree of commonality among private forest landowners and maple syrup producers in their preferred delivery methods and messengers for educational materials was explored as a result of this natural disaster. Most respondents surveyed indicated that newsletters or special mailings were the best way to reach them. However, some evidence was found that small-scale forest landowners find personal contacts more useful than written materials when considering adopting a new practice. Evidence exists that some people likely sought information for the first time as a result of the storm and many think about the possibility of future ice storms when making management decisions. Responding effectively to a teachable moment created by a natural disaster requires the ability to disperse quickly relevant educational materials through a knowledgeable and trusted human network and into the hands of affected individuals before they begin making resource management decisions.


educational needs ice storm maple syrup production PFLs teachable moment 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy A. Connelly
    • 1
  • Peter J. Smallidge
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Specialist, Human Dimensions Research Unit Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthaca
  2. 2.State Extension Forester Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthaca

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