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The Center for Private Forests Personnel

Posted: October 13, 2016

The Center for Private Forests has existed since 2011. These are the people who undertake the research and do the work of the Center. We thought you might like to get to know them a little better.

joined the Center in 2012 as the Conference Coordinator for the Center’s Forest Landowner Conferences. Sara is married to Mark Banker who is a Wildlife Biologist. They have two children, Luke and Clare. When she’s not planning one of our Conferences, Sara enjoys spending time with her family, traveling to warmer places, and volunteering in her community. 

wears many hats at Penn State as the Pennsylvania Extension Forester, Ibberson Professor of Forest Resources Management, and Director of the Center for Private Forests. He has had a busy career with lots of opportunities. After graduating from Penn State in 1970 with a BS in Forest Resources Management he worked for the US Forest Service collecting forest inventory data in eight Northeastern states; he also conducted research directed toward forest landowners. In 1973 he left the Forest Service to pursue an MS at Penn State, again in Forest Resources, and studied changing landowner attitudes in Delaware. His career then took him to Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier where he spent five years as a regional extension educator stationed in Dushore, Sullivan County, working with landowners and industry focusing on sustainable forestry. In 1980, he moved back to State College as the maple syrup and Christmas tree specialist, and slowly he morphed the position more toward private forest management. After a few years, he started to think about a Ph.D. and was accepted into a program at Cornell; however, life took a turn and he completed a doctorate in Ag and Extension at Penn State in 1991 looking at bidding on timber. Jim and his wife Linda are active in forestry and actually met twenty-four years ago at a Pennsylvania Forestry Association meeting in Eagles Mere and will celebrate eighteen years together this October. Together, they own 280 acres of woodlands in Elk County and look forward to spending more time there in the next year. Jim’s son, Andy, is a forestry faculty member at Michigan State University, and he and his wife, Sarah, have three children. Jim, besides work, finds time to do some woodworking and bowl turning in his shop and enjoys hunting and many outside activities. 

began working as a Forest Stewardship Program Associate with the Center for Private Forests in autumn of 2014. She has a BS in Natural Sciences (concentration in Biology), and an MS in Forestry, and fifteen years of experience working in natural resource education and management. Her work experiences include aquatic/riparian insect surveys, outdoor environmental education to youth, habitat conservation planning, watershed group development and education, and co-managing a farm and woodland homestead and business in rural Appalachian Ohio. Leslie’s forestry work has primarily focused on creating opportunities for landowners to talk and learn together—especially how their forest stewardship activities can positively affect a larger landscape. She also is experienced in developing social marketing communications around key management concerns such as invasive species management and lack of adequate forest regeneration. She enjoys promoting creative agroforestry opportunities for improving woodland health that also can provide supplemental income. Outside of work life, Leslie loves feeding friends, gardening, growing and making “goods from the woods,” singing, playing guitar and fiddle, doing outside chores with her cat Pearl, and caring for friends’ dogs until she adopts another. She also has a passion for learning and sharing the history, architecture, and land use of two places that will always be cherished homes: Springfield, Ohio and Appalachian Ohio (especially Athens, Meigs, and Hocking Counties). 

is a Forest Stewardship Program Associate and the Associate Director of the Center for Private Forests. Allyson has worked for the last nineteen years to provide collaborative and peer learning education and create dialogue to advance understanding of forest stewardship issues and opportunities. Allyson has a BS in Natural Resources, a Master’s of Forestry, and a Doctorate of Education in Collaborative Learning. As a forest stewardship program associate at Penn State, Allyson works primarily with the PA Forest Stewards, a group of engaged volunteers (currently over 500) and recent award winners (see page 5), to spread the message of good forest stewardship throughout Pennsylvania. Allyson has also worked to change the relationship between natural resources professionals and forest landowners to enhance understanding and increase positive communication so that good on-the-ground practices ensue. She is inspired by the passion that woodland owners hold and act upon in caring for their land. Allyson is mom to a strong girl, married to a professor of botany, loves to read, has re-taken-up horseback riding after a two-decade hiatus, and recently added kickboxing to her list of off-work activities. 

joined the staff of the Center in February 2016 as our Administrative Staff Assistant. You will find her doing a variety of tasks, from answering phone calls and emails to mailing publications, doing paperwork, editing documents, making copies, and taking care of the office. She graduated from Penn State with a BA in Journalism in 1977 and served as Assistant Sports Editor for The Daily Collegian as a student. An avid writer and learner, Barb later earned an AAS in Electronics Engineering Technology and spent fourteen years as a technical writer. Before transitioning to our team, she served as the Media Director for a large State College area church. Barb was born and raised in the farmlands of Lancaster County and knows how to drive a tractor (at least, an old Farmall!) and harvest tobacco. She lives on sixteen acres that includes meadow, woods, a creek, and an agricultural field. As a result of working here, she has already learned a lot about how to improve her land and is looking forward to the positive changes to come.