The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Gilbert Shibley Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

November 10, 2015


Gilbert Almon Shibley was born in 1938 in Estacada, Oregon on a farm that was homesteaded by his family in 1863. Graduating from Estacada High School in 1956, Shibley enrolled at Lewis and Clark College, where he majored in Biology. Following the completion of his undergraduate studies in 1960, Shibley moved on to the University of Oregon, where he earned both a master's degree and a Ph.D. in Biology in 1964.

Upon finishing up graduate school, Shibley moved to the University of Wisconsin for a year of post-doctoral research. In 1965, he joined the faculty of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he taught biology and contributed to the school's Freshman Studies general education program. Ten years after arriving, Shibley left Lawrence to return to the family farm in Oregon.

Once reestablished in Oregon, Shibley became involved with 4-H, ultimately accepting a position as 4-H Extension Agent for Multnomah County. After six years working in Multnomah County, he transferred into a similar job in Columbia County. During this time, Shibley directed 4-H camps and organized 4-H forestry clubs. In 1987, he was honored by the county for programming that he initiated to foster creative thinking.

In 1990, Shibley left 4-H Extension to devote more time to the family property. His connection to Extension continued, however, through his enrollment in the service's Master Woodland Manager course, which he completed in 1993. Initially seeking to improve his own skillset with an eye toward managing the family property more effectively, Shibley eventually began working as a part-time Extension Forestry Assistant for Clackamas County, advising family foresters across the county and teaching classes in basic forestry management.

As an outgrowth of this work, Shibley became an expert on taxation issues specific to family forests, and also published on the cultivation of healthy Christmas tree crops, among other topics. Shibley likewise became politically active, working with the Oregon Small Woodlands Association and the Clackamas County Farm Forestry Association to lobby the state legislature on issues related to family forestry operations. He retired from his Extension Forestry Assistant position in 2008.