Home Sweet Home With Steve Roberge

Forestry State Specialist
Steve Roberge poses in a maple sugar shack

Physical distancing and not seeing friends, family and co-workers can be difficult, but we sure are grateful for the safety and security of home. With Extension offices closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, staff members are sharing how their work has shifted and why they are grateful for home.

Steve Roberge

Forestry State Specialist

Now that you are working remotely, how are you continuing to help New Hampshire residents?

The work of the Forest Stewardship team continues. We have always focused on forests and those who own and steward them. With folks spending more time at home, I find they are more curious about the natural world around them. Whether they own a 50-acre woodlot behind their house or they are going for a walk down the street, I've been fielding questions about tree identification, timber harvesting laws and Current Use assessment, to name a few.

I encourage folks to send their woodlot or natural world questions to our Forestry Information Center or contact your County Extension Forester directly. We are still connecting with landowners remotely and very much enjoy speaking with them about their woodlots. It's amazing how technology can connect us even in some of the most remote places in the woods.

Supporting New Hampshire's private consulting foresters has always been part of the Extension Forestry Specialist work. We have had to postpone or cancel a lot of events that would have provided continuing education credits for foresters to maintain their license to practice forestry. Fortunately, there are online options for continuing education. I've been collecting those resources and sharing them with foresters in need of additional credits. The main venue for sharing information with the forestry community has been Extension's Forestry News for Foresters.

What are you currently reading or what reading do you recommend in your area of expertise for those distancing at home?

I'm currently reading the draft of White Pine Silviculture for Timber and Wildlife Habitat in New England co-authored by Bill Leak, Mariko Yamasaki, Karen Bennett, Ken Desmarais, Peter Pohl, Christine Costello and Isabel Munck. Heavy hitters of the New Hampshire forestry world. I'll be excited to share this with foresters and wildlife biologists when it's a final Extension publication.

Are you listening to any good podcasts?

I usually listened to those when I was driving. Not too much of that nowadays. What our family is listening to is the daily chorus of migratory birds outside. Every day there seems to be a new voice showing up. This past weekend the eastern wood-pewee made its presence known. Today, the brown-headed cowbird arrived and didn't move much from a hemlock next to our house.

Favorite at-home activity related to your area of expertise?

Stacking wood and identifying scat from wildlife that pass through our property. The maple sugaring season ended early for me this year so have been pulling my taps and walking the sugarbushes. I don't know if it's my favorite, but I did tap a few birch trees and I'm experimenting with boiling and final densities. I suspect next year I won't be tapping birches.

Favorite thing to do with your family at home?

Teaching our son how to identify birds and trees. He's almost two years-old and he can already identify 30+ birds by sight (in the field or book) or by ear in the field. I hope this doesn't come off as bragging, but I really enjoy the ability to share something about the natural world. I think the robin is his favorite to see but the woodcock (AKA timberdoodle) is his favorite song—"PEEEEENT!" I hope this is teaching him the skill of observation and building his literacy to the natural world. At the very least he'll return to daycare knowing a second language—birdsong.

Got a favorite meal to make?

I do. Many. But pizza has to be the go-to meal. It's been reported and unrefuted that I make the best Sicilian pizza in the Monadnock Region.

Anything else to share?

I would encourage folks not to hesitate to contact their County Extension Foresters if they have any question about what they are seeing out there in the woods or when they are on a walk. Take a picture and share it with us. Be well!

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