University of Maryland Extension

The Online Course

Since the publication of the first edition of The Woods in Your Backyard: Learning to Create and Enhance Natural Areas Around Your Home in 2006, thousands of property owners in the Mid-Atlantic region have purchased the guide and attended workshops to learn more about caring for the natural habitats on their land. The guide has recently been revised; to learn more about the 2nd edition and to order, go here.

Now, the University of Maryland Extension has adapted the guide’s materials and activities into an online course. The non-credit course is built on a cross-platform, cloud-based learning management system called Canvas, so it is equally accessible to users of Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. Please note that Canvas is optimized for desktop displays, so viewing the course content on smaller devices (such as tablets or iPads) or on phones may less effective. See the Canvas Guide document, "Which browsers does Canvas support?"

The next session of the online course is slated to run March 7 - May 21, 2018. Registration via Eventbrite will open in February, 2018.

Click on the images below or go here for a preview of the course. 

Sample video from "Introduction to The Woods in Your Backyard"

Sample page from "Water Resources and Your Natural Area"

Sample video from "Modifying or Improving Habitat" (2 minutes)

Sample video from "Identifying Your Trees and Shrubs" (4 minutes)

Participants will learn why they should manage their land; the basics of tree identification, forestry, and wildlife habitat management; how to choose a few land management projects to meet their goals; and how to set a timetable and record their progress. Throughout the course, quizzes will help participants understand important concepts. Activities will assist them to organize their thoughts about their property's natural areas and selecting projects for the future. Additionally, the course offers examples from three case families that will offer different perspectives on natural area projects. The course promotes the stewardship of small parcels of land for the personal enjoyment of the owners, and improved environmental quality for society. If you own 1 to 10 acres in the Eastern United States that is forested or has unmowed natural areas, this course is for you. It is also for you if you have a mowed lawn area that you want to turn into a woodland.

With a paid enrollment, each participant receives a print copy of The Woods in Your Backyard (2nd edition), The Woods in Your Backyard Workbook, and Common Native Trees of Virginia Tree Identification Guide.

For more information, contact Andrew Kling at the University of Maryland Extension Western Maryland Research & Education Center, 18330 Keedysville Road, Keedysville MD 21756; by phone at 301-432-2767 ext. 307; or email

Click here to see a sample of the online course.

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