AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – After working as a forester, professor and an Alabama Cooperative Extension System specialist, Becky Barlow can now add the titles of assistant director and associate dean to her resumé.
June 1, Barlow was named the new Alabama Extension assistant director for agriculture, forestry and natural resource (AFNR) programming. She will also serve the Auburn University College of Agriculture as the associate dean for Extension.
Barlow said she is honored to have been selected to serve in this position.
“As an Extension professional, my goal is to inspire and empower all Alabama residents so they can have a better life,” Barlow said. “This is an exciting opportunity because it allows me to work closely with the talented and dedicated professionals we have on the Alabama Extension, Auburn University and Alabama A&M University teams who are making a difference in a very real way.”
Continuing Her Work
While this title is new for Barlow, the role is not. For the past year, she has served as the interim for this position. Mike Phillips, director of Alabama Extension, said the experience Barlow brings to the role will allow her to excel.
“Dr. Barlow brings a wealth of knowledge and compassion for Extension work across the wide array of subject matter expertise in agriculture, forestry and natural resources,” Phillips said. “She has demonstrated effective leadership in numerous capacities throughout her career. She is the consummate professional who will excel in representing Alabama Extension and Auburn University program areas.”
In this role, Barlow will continue to serve as the liaison between Alabama Extension and the Auburn College of Agriculture. This includes coordinating and leading Extension educational programming that is done in coordination with the College of Agriculture, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment and Alabama A&M University.
“Dr. Barlow brings passion for Alabama Extension and agriculture, forestry and natural resources, as well as extensive experience in AFNR programming that is invaluable in this role,” said Paul Patterson, dean of the College of Agriculture. “I look forward to continuing to work with her as she steps into the role permanently.”
Vision for the Future
In her new role, Barlow hopes to create an environment where both employees and the citizens of Alabama feel like Extension is meeting their needs.
“I think it is important that the development of our regional agents and specialists is a focus in this program area and in all of Extension,” Barlow said. “By supporting our own people, they will be better able to serve the people of Alabama. This support will also help shine a spotlight on the amazing work they do to improve people’s lives.”
Barlow is eager to implement both professional development and mentoring opportunities. She hopes that these opportunities will establish an energetic Extension workforce infrastructure that builds a foundation for educating future generations.
“I want to create a work environment where more established professionals act as mentors to new hires, helping them progress in their careers,” Barlow said.
Also, Barlow said the AFNR program area needs to have a hand in training future Extension educators. Working with the College of Agriculture, she hopes to show students the great career paths that make up Extension.
“Creating opportunities, such as internships, where we can work directly with students is a vital importance to the future of Extension,” Barlow said. “This type of interaction ensures that we are passing both educational and institutional knowledge to the people that will be serving Alabama residents for years to come.”
The Road from Birmingham to Auburn
While she was born in Birmingham, Alabama, Barlow spent most of early years in Memphis, Tennessee. For higher education, she attended Mississippi State University. There, she completed a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture and a master’s degree in forestry. She also holds a Ph. D. in the field of forest and forest resources management.
Barlow started her career as a land management forester for Weyerhaeuser Company and served in this role for 12 years. In 2007, she came to Auburn University as an assistant professor and Extension specialist. Her time with Auburn includes the university naming her an associate professor in 2012 and a full professor in 2018. Auburn University also honored her with the Harry Murphy Endowed Professorship in 2020. Barlow has two children, and they are following in their mother’s footsteps by currently attending Mississippi State University.
Alabama Extension is the primary outreach organization for the land grant mission of Alabama A&M and Auburn universities. Its educational programs grow from these two land grant university campuses to serve the people of Alabama. Extension delivers science-based educational programs that enable people to improve their quality of life and economic well-being. Learn more at www.aces.edu.