March 2021 marks the start of a new chapter for Extension Specialist Larry Barker, of Coös County, who leaves our organization with over 30 years of service to UNH and to the New Hampshire Youth and Families Program. Barker has led and supported a variety of 4-H programs during a tenure that involved many roles, including:
Barry Conservation 4-H Camp Administrator
NH 4-H Shooting Sports State Coordinator
Coös County 4-H Program Specialist
Coös County Office Administrator
Barker has won multiple awards and accolades including Volunteer New Hampshire’s Outstanding Volunteer Manager Award early on in his career, UNH Extension’s Performance Beyond Expectations Award in 2010 and UNH’s highest honor, the Presidential Award of Excellence, in 2016.
When asked about his time at UNH, Barker said, “I was initially attracted to Extension, in part, by the organization’s mission of providing people with balanced, researched-based information to help them make informed decisions. We teach people how to think, not what to think. Honestly, that’s more relevant today than ever.”
Barker is an example of the kind of person who goes above and beyond expectations.
Whether coordinating volunteers, teaching youth how to safely and responsibly use firearms, communicating the value of Extension programs to county and state stakeholders, or managing a multi-week ACA accredited residential summer camp program, Barker has always brought open-mindedness, sincerity and family values to the job.
He has been especially instrumental in forging strong relationships between UNH’s Durham campus and the North Country, demonstrating that geographical distances do not have to limit connections within New Hampshire.
Barker has been respected by his colleagues who said that he was a teammate always willing to help. While an expert in outdoor and natural resource programming, his true passion has been in youth development. As one colleague put it, “Larry’s dedication to Positive Youth Development, and his ability to advocate for it, teach about it and share it, has been inspirational and informative to me over the years.”
Youth and Families Program Team Leader Mike Young said, “Larry has been a hard-working, detail-oriented leader who balances big picture thinking with on-the-ground actionable strategies. He is an exceptional employee who handled significant leadership roles with professionalism and perspective. He was a leader within UNH Extension as well as within his community and he has served as a highly effective face for UNH in the North Country.”
It’s no surprise that when asked what aspect of his career has mattered most, Barker is quick to speak about others. “I look back on my career and what I value most is my colleagues, our tremendously dedicated volunteers and all the phenomenal youth that I have had a chance to work with. The people in Extension are the best. I know that our work with youth has helped to create confident, resilient, contributing individuals with solid leadership skills. They provide reason to be optimistic about our future. I take no small amount of pride in the lives we have touched through 4-H and Extension over the years. We truly do improve the lives of N.H. citizens. I have gained much, much more than I have given during my career with Extension. Thank you for the privilege.”
Larry Barker will be missed but will likely not be too hard to find if you check the local men’s hockey league in Lancaster on Tuesday nights or his sugar shack in March.