Fred W. Barber was a humble man who loved his work in agriculture, and he was a devoted supporter of the 4-H youth development program for many years.
Barber had a lifelong interest in farming and forestry. Barber graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture in 1933 and continued with graduate studies until 1935. In 1937, he joined UF’s Cooperative Extension Service, serving in Flagler, Washington and Okaloosa counties.
He spent 28 years using his expertise to advance agricultural services and help others learn to help themselves. He worked with rural people in Libya, North Africa, and Brazil.
He became a specialist in Libya and Brazil with the U.S. Agency for International Development in 1951, and spent the next 14 years providing technical help for underprivileged nations.
He began tree farming in 1954 and received the first American Forest Institute’s Tree Farmer of the Year Award in 1976. He received the Southern Forest Institute Award in 1976 and the Florida Forestry Association Award in 1975.
He was also known for his leadership in Florida agriculture. Barber helped establish the Okaloosa County Farm Bureau, where he served as Secretary/Treasurer for eleven years. In 1987, he was honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the Florida Farm Bureau
For nearly 20 years, he worked closely with Florida 4-H Foundation and the University of Florida Foundation, Inc. to help youth prepare for the future through Florida 4-H and UF forestry programs. Barber generously supported 4-H for many years, and helped many 4-H members achieve their goals with financial assistance.
Barber believed in supporting 4-H members who demonstrated high achievement during their involvement with 4-H, outstanding abilities in their fields of interest, and an interest in furthering their education. He and his wife Mabel Barber, have been long-time financial supporters of the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program.
He left a donation of $10,000 in his will for 4-H Camp Timpoochee. He also established the Fred W. Barber 4-H College Scholarship offered in Okaloosa County, which has helped many young people pursue their education.
Throughout their lives, the Barbers carried a deep commitment to human welfare on a community and global level. Longtime friends of the University of Florida, they made a substantial estate gift to create and endow a scholarship for students enrolled in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation to help students acquire the skills necessary to make the world a better place.
Fred Barber is deeply missed, but his contributions to agriculture and the 4-H program will not be forgotten.