Firewood and hunting was the extent of Richard Warosh’s familiarity with his grandparent’s woodlands in Lincoln County when he was growing up. Rich always looked forward to hunting the land, enjoying all the mixed northern hardwood stands had to offer, but as he entered college, his grandmother told him she planned to sell the land. Rich empathized with her and mentioned that he wished he had the money to buy it. She was surprised at his remark, not knowing that he had any interest in the land. This news instantly triggered a change in her plans, and she decided to take him to the courthouse the next day to sign the property over to him. Richard was shocked and excited by her decision, but quickly realized he lacked any background information on forestry or logging.
Fate stepped into Rich’s life quickly, though, as he wandered about the Wisconsin Valley Fair in Wausau. There, he came upon the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association’s booth in the exhibit hall and met late member, John Czerwonka. Rich was excited after speaking with John, realizing this was exactly what he was looking for: some guidance on how to manage his newly obtained woodlands. John helped Rich get his feet wet with WWOA, encouraging him join his regional WWOA chapter. John also got Rich involved in a variety of WWOA activities, including the website committee, thanks to Rich’s experience in information technology. After getting involved and learning more about WWOA, Rich was hooked and decided to become a life member after attending the WWOA Annual Meeting for the second time.
Rich is proud of his membership with WWOA, explaining, “I have learned volumes about forestry-it’s more than just trees, that’s just one piece of the pie.” He uses the example of honeysuckle to explain further, “through WWOA, I learned about invasive species. Two members came out to my property and informed me of the honeysuckle on my land and the threat it posed. I hadn’t known anything about it before then. That shared knowledge has been invaluable to me and the management of my land.”
Richard enjoys hunting on his land, and uses game cameras to see what sort of critters cross his property. He describes the excitement of switching out the memory cards: “You may get pictures of five does and all of a sudden, there’s a bobcat! I’ve captured a lot of neat pictures over the years.”
One of Rich’s favorite WWOA activities is attending the open woods field days. He loves to see how other members manage their woodlands and says he learns something new every time. He mentions, with a spark in his eyes and a grin on his face, the management of the honeysuckle on his property, noting “despite the ongoing battle, I feel that someday I will succeed.” He stresses that with knowledge comes responsibility and describes how his passion fuels him, “…to be a good steward of the land. I want to leave it in a better condition than what I acquired it in.”
Rich’s passion for the organization is evident by his constant efforts to give back to WWOA. Utilizing his unique background in information technology, Rich serves as chair of the Website Committee and is also on the Publications Committee. He is active within the North Central chapter, and has served in every officer position. Further, he serves on the current Northcentral Winter Conference Planning Committee to help ensure that other WWOA members will have the kind of great experience he did when he first attended. When the Annual Meeting is held in his area, Rich assists with its planning.
When asked why he chooses to give back to WWOA, Rich states, “Everyone needs to learn how to be a steward of their land. WWOA has a lot of resources available to landowners and there is so much knowledge to be gained about managing your woodland from both the organization and its members-it’s an invaluable opportunity.” He encourages other woodland owners to get involved with WWOA and take advantage of everything the organization has to offer.