Fair and Exceptional Leadership

Dr. Barb Fair

The NC Urban Forest Council has award Dr. Barbara Fair the 2018 Outstanding Leadership in Urban Forestry Award. The award is part of the NC Urban Forestry Awards program and recognizes communities, organizations and individuals for outstanding work in protecting and enhancing our community forests. The council presents the annual awards to give back to those who have been committed to creating healthy urban forests and raising community awareness of the importance of these projects.

Dr. Fair has shown outstanding leadership in promoting urban forest management and proper tree care management across North Carolina. As an associate professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at NC State University, she provides expertise to NC State Extension faculty and the green industry as a whole. Barb has an unwavering commitment to landscape sustainability and arboriculture, developing numerous outreach publications on proper tree care, mentoring students in Horticultural Science, assisting communities with tree management issues and presenting at workshops and conferences across the state (and nation) on the importance of urban trees and their proper management. She has served on the NC Urban Forest Council Board of Directors as board chair and continues to provide direction and guidance as an ex officio member. With Barb’s assistance and contributions, arboriculture and urban forestry in North Carolina continue to develop and expand to benefit citizens, communities and natural ecosystems statewide into the future.

Give me some background on your areas of expertise.

I obtained my undergraduate degree in forest science for The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) in 1980 and went into the industry to work for many years and had a family, Then I went back to Penn State and graduated in 1995 with an M.F.R. in urban forestry from Penn State. I worked in urban forestry for a number of years and then went back to school and graduated with a PhD in landscape horticulture from The Ohio State University in 2005. I worked at Eastern Kentucky University for two years as an assistant professor, then came to NC State in 2007.

Why did you come to work at NC State?

NC State had an incredible reputation in Horticultural Science, and I wanted to be a part of that program.

What are you doing now in research, teaching or Extension?

As an Extension specialist I work with green industry professionals regarding factors critical in the development of functional, long-lived and healthy landscapes. I focus on my areas of expertise in arboriculture. I have been a certified arborist since 1994. I teach landscape Ecosystem Management (HS 471), Green Infrastructure: The Functional Use of Plants in Urban Areas (HS 420), Gardening with Herbaceous Perennials (HS 302), and Environmental Stress Physiology (HS 701). My research is in arboriculture, looking at tree planting and management issues.

How does your work transform challenges into opportunities?

I believe trees are a critical component of urban-suburban infrastructure. Trees provide numerous environmental, social and economic benefits. They are integral to healthy, vital communities. Therefore, my work focuses on research that explores tree performance aimed at enhancing their chance to survive in urban situations. My extension and teaching work presents research-based information, grounded in my unique perspective from industry work for many years to provide practical, realistic and integrated approaches to comprehensive plant selection, functional planting techniques and proper management practices.

What stands out about CALS students?

They have an interest in making their world a better place. This means they are very interested in applied approaches to problem solving that are based in sound research.

The best advice I ever received was?

Work hard, stick to what you know is right, and express yourself in a calm, direct manner. I still struggle with the last part a bit, but I am always trying to get better at it!