Updated: November 15, 2022

Jonathan Kays, Retired University of Maryland Extension Forester

10,000 Days in Woods is an enjoyable and easy to read series of fifty-eight short stories of one man’s journey from childhood to that of professional forester.

Entertaining and informative stories of the author’s childhood experiences on a family farm in Massachusetts mold a boy enchanted with nature and lead him to see and experience things many people will never know.

Experiences with wood heating, observing changes in the landscape, hiking a mountain, investigating a beaver pond, making maple syrup, and observing timberdoodles are but a few of the well told stories that make up the collection of his early years. A high school guidance counselor drove him to go to college to become a forester and helped him overcome his academic challenges to prove himself, first in a small two-year college in North Dakota, and then the University of Montana where he earned his degree in forestry.

These are followed by forty humorous and reflective accounts of experiences working in the woods with fellow workers as a seasonal forester with the US Forest Service out west, as a logger, and with many related occupations.

The stories have a lack of pretense that engages the reader to want more. After many years in the west, Richardson misses the mountains and culture of New England and decides to move east.

That is where this part of his story ends. This book is only first in a series of the author’s 10,000 days in the woods, covering only through 1975. If you are a forester, you will relate to many of Richardson’s life situations and early experiences as he takes most any job opportunity to gain experience. But for anyone else that loves nature and the environment, the book provides perspective and experiences that are worth the read, regardless of where you live or your upbringing.

Learn more about Russ Richardson on his website:


Branching Out, Vol. 30, no. 4 (Fall 2022)

Branching Out is the free, quarterly newsletter of the Woodland Stewardship Education program. For more than 25 years, Branching Out has kept Maryland woodland owners and managers informed about ways to develop and enhance their natural areas, how to identify and control invasive plants and insects, and about news and regional online and in-person events.