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Longtime Forest Service Scientist Felix Ponder Retiring December 3

COLUMBIA, MO, November 17, 2011 - Felix Ponder, Jr., a research soil scientist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Stationin Columbia, Mo., will retire on December 3, 2011, after 40 years with the Forest Service.

“His curiosity about the world, and his encouragement of others to be curious, has contributed so much to science and to the Northern Research Station,” said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Northern Research Station. “I am grateful for his years with the Station and wish him a wonderful retirement.”

Ponder began his career at Jefferson National Forest in Virginia in 1971 and worked as a soil scientist for 4 years before joining the Northern Research Station in Carbondale, Ill. Ponder’s office was located at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., for more than 18 years, where Ponder served 3 years as project leader of the second research work unit in the nation to be located on the campus of an historically black college or university. His work with students was instrumental in drawing people into natural resource careers.

Ponder’s career has its roots in the red clay of his family’s farm in Georgia, where he planted his first garden and became fascinated with growing vegetables. His interest grew when he went to high school and met like-minded students in New Farmers of America and 4H. As a college student, his interest in soils shifted from agricultural soils to forest soils and their complicated interaction of fungi, bacteria and other organisms.

Opportunities to explore, collaborate, and provide information that helps people manage their land have powered his long career, Ponder said. “Hopefully, I’ve raised some questions and some uncertainties about things that people will investigate,” he said. “The evolution of ideas and methodologies to make things better is what science is all about.”

Ponder’s retirement plans include volunteering and gardening.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. The mission of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The mission of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/.

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Last modified: November 17, 2011