Landowner leader — Minnesota Forestry Association board member
Landowning is a family affair for Peggy Meseroll, who co-owns 227 acres near Esko with her brother and sister as part of the "Maki Family, LLC." "It's a joint venture for all of us," says Peggy. "We all can work together to decide what we're going to do as far as logging and selling trees." Her parents had previously raised beef and dairy cattle on the land. But when farming became too difficult in the 1960s, her parents converted the land into a tree farm that Peggy and her siblings enjoy to this day. Peggy is always interested in learning more about her woods. "I have bird books, and plant books, and tree books. So, I take them in the woods," she says. "There's the pileated!" she whispers excitedly, pointing to the large red-headed woodpecker at her birdfeeder.
Peggy's thirst for knowledge is part of what led her to become involved in the Minnesota Forestry Association (MFA). She first learned about the organization by attending MFA's Spring Field Days. Peggy has continued to attend in years since. "We had a chain saw safety, we've had invasive species things, tree identification, different harvest methods," she recounts. Peggy and her family have even hosted their own field tour in Cloquet where they brought other landowners to their woods to show a recent harvest.
"Minnesota Forestry Association advocates our legislature for the private woodland owners, the small woodland owners," Peggy notes. "MFA was crucial in getting the Sustainable Forest Incentive Act passed, and the 2c tax breaks for the landowners. They lobbied down at the state capitol. So that's helped a lot of us defray some of the taxes; otherwise, I don't think we could afford to have our two 40-acre plots up on our north side if we didn't have a tax break."
In addition to Spring Field Days, MFA offers a bi-monthly informational newsletter and a variety of other programs including a new service called "Boots on Your Ground." As Peggy describes it: "you can call up and have a forester come and walk through your property with you, giving advice. It's on a voluntary basis, and we're trying to cover the whole state." Currently, volunteer foresters are available in 55 Minnesota counties. MFA members can also follow up with a forester via the free "Phone a Forester" phone line.
A local forester encouraged Peggy to run for the MFA board. She was elected and served for two terms. She encourages others to get involved and seek out one of MFA's local affiliate chapters. "If you can't learn something every day, it's a sad situation." When is a good time to join MFA? "The sooner the better!" she says. "I think they have 600-plus members and are always, always looking for more people."