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Charles J. Barden

Ph.D., Forest Resources, 1989

Charles J. “Charlie” Barden completed his Ph.D. in Forest Resources at Penn State in 1989.  Upon graduation, he began working as Area Extension Forester, serving 21 counties in southeast Oklahoma.  There he rejuvenated the 4-H Youth Forestry Camp by increasing industry support, and filled the camp to capacity. He conducted a broad array of programming for Christmas tree growers, municipal tree boards, Tree Farmers, and other landowners.  He organized a cadre of fellow Extension specialists to produce a monthly newsletter, Commercial Alternative Ag Newsline.  He also conducted groundbreaking research by applying heavy amounts of poultry litter to loblolly pine plantations, and measured not just the impact on the trees, but also tracked the excess nutrients through runoff and soil water.

Charlie’s work in Oklahoma was recognized by three awards.  In 1992 he received the Outstanding State 4-H Program award from the Oklahoma Association of Extension Agricultural Agents.  In 1993 he was recognized as the Outstanding Young Forester in Oklahoma and received the Ted Silker Award from the Oklahoma Division of the Society of American Foresters.  In 1994 he received the Outstanding Service to the Forestry Community of Oklahoma and Dedication to Youth Education in Natural Resources award by the Department of Forestry of Oklahoma State University.

Late in 1994 Charlie was hired to fill the newly created position of Northeast Regional Extension Forester, based out of the Northeastern Area office of the USDA Forest Service, but technically working for the Penn State Extension Director.  He served as a liaison between Extension Foresters, state forestry agencies, and the USDA Forest Service, across the 21-state Northeastern Area, stretching from Maine to Missouri, and Minnesota to Maryland. Innovative programming in that position included organizing a series of intensive educational workshops on ecosystem management. 

 In 1998, Charlie accepted another “first” position, State Extension Forester for Kansas,

which he still holds today.  Housed at Kansas State University (KSU), Charlie works closely with the state’s Native American population, conducts research and Extension programming in water quality, and leads interdisciplinary teams to accomplish numerous projects and implement new programs.  His research and demonstration sites on windbreak renovation, streambank stabilization, riparian buffer establishment, and the use of tree shelters are used by many agencies and are the frequent site of field days and tours.  His establishment of the efficacy of tree shelters in the challenging Great Plains climate resulted in the Kansas USDA approving the cost-share of this tool for hardwood plantings.  Most recently he has taken an interest in recruiting graduate students from Central America, and led a delegation of KSU faculty to Honduras to meet with students and faculty of the Zamorano Institute and USDA AID officials.  

Charlie has received numerous awards while at KSU including the Outstanding Faculty Mentor for K-State Research and Extension in 2010, the Team Award from K-State Research and Extension in 2009 for leadership of the Heartland Water Quality Coordination Initiative, the Leadership Award from the EPA Region 7 Administrator in 2007, and the Diversity Award from K-State Research and Extension in 2007, in recognition of working relationships developed with the Kansas Native American community.