Online Webinars Are Plentiful and a Source of Credits for Foresters

It has been over five years since the N.H. Licensing Board of Foresters made significant changes to the continuing education requirements for license renewal. The rules that apply to the continuing education requirements are found in PART Fors 403 CONTINUING EDUCATION.

One change—the board doesn’t pre-approve workshop credits. Per Fors 403.04(j), continuing education programs approved by the Society of American Foresters (SAF) shall earn continuing education units as assigned by the SAF. That’s why I always seek SAF credits for any workshop I conduct—it assures attendees that the licensing board will accept the credits.

Though the rules don’t explicitly mention online workshops such as webinars, by accepting SAF credits, the board opened up the world of online learning to foresters. Many webinars offer SAF credits.

For example, the northeast silviculture institute provides great information about silviculture and the following credits.

  • overview session credits: 16.0 SAF CFEs in category 1
  • spruce-fir session credits: 15.5 SAF CFEs in category 1
  • pine-oak-hemlock session credits: 13.5 SAF CFEs in category 1
  • northern hardwood session credits: 13.5 SAF CFEs category 1
  • mixed oak-hickory session credits: 13.0 SAF CFEs category 1

Yes, there is a fee to participate, but I think the fee is well worth it. (Disclaimer—I was one of the institute’s co-directors.) I promptly issue certificates of attendance when you inform me you’ve completed all the requirements (i.e. watch all the session videos and complete the associated readings).

The silviculture institute isn’t the only game in town. Cornell’s Forest Connect, University of Vermont Extension, NRCS, and Penn State all sponsor webinars, as do others. Many are archived and available for viewing. However, to receive SAF credits you need to view them “live,” while they are being offered and not from the archive.

Each webinar-provider operates slightly differently, but I generally receive email notices in advance asking me to register to attend a specific webinar. Most are free. The emails instruct how to access the webinar and what to do receive credits. If credits are supplied, you get some kind of email confirmation.

I’ve learned not to wait until the last minute to connect to the webinars. You might need to download special software such as Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, or Webex. It’s smart to give yourself plenty of time to download and test the software according to instructions given.

Here is a partial listing of places to sign-up to receive email notices about upcoming webinars:

While I think in-person workshops offer the best learning experience—a chance to go in-the-field, interact face-to-face with smart people, and the ability to interact with colleagues—online learning has much to offer. It offers us a chance to learn from experts that aren’t in our region, save travel cost and time, and garner credits to satisfy our licensing requirements all in the comfort of our own office or home.