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Ibberson Chair of Forest Resources Management

Joseph Ibberson: Private Forest Benefactor

Joseph Ibberson died in 2011; but, during his long life, he used his talents and resources to benefit future Pennsylvanians who share his love of forests. If you enjoy spending time on one of Pennsylvania’s protected forests, you can thank Joseph E. Ibberson. As a pioneering forester with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources Bureau of Forestry, he was instrumental in preserving and managing state forest land. Although he officially retired from the Bureau in 1977, Joe continued as leader in the field, and, in 1999, donated his own property to create the first conservation area in the Pennsylvania state park system. During his lifetime, he often acknowledged the encouragement and education he received from Penn State.

“That was the key to everything – they practically kicked me into my career,” Joe said of his time at the Mont Alto campus and about his earned degree from the College of Agricultural Sciences at University Park in 1947. “The director of the forestry school almost forced me to go to Yale to earn my master’s degree, and another Penn State professor challenged me to create the first timber management plans for the two million acres of forest the state owned at that time.”

In 1997, he established the Joseph E. Ibberson Chair in Forest Resources Management. The first holder of the Chair was Harry V. Wiant, formerly a faculty member with West Virginia State University. The current holder is Jim Finley, longtime extension forester at Penn State in the School of Forest Resources and now the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. Jim is also the Director for the Center for Private Forests at Penn State.

Joe’s vision for the Ibberson Chair in Forest Management was to focus on the needs of private forest landowners as they work to manage sustainably their individual woodlands. He recognized that private forest owners could benefit from professional assistance provided by trained foresters and hoped that the holders of the Chair would strive to elevate the use of science-based forest management on Pennsylvania’s private forests. To do this he saw a need to conduct both outreach and teaching through the auspices of the Chair. The 2013 Conference for Private Forests: The Future of Penn’s Woods was clearly an effort to move his vision to reality as it brought owners and managers together to share a love for forests.