A longtime station agronomist and potato researcher is taking the reigns at Oregon State University’s Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center in Klamath Falls, Ore.
Brian Charlton has been named interim director at KBREC, effective July 1. He replaces Willie Riggs, who was appointed regional director for OSU Extension Service’s newly configured southern region.
The move comes as OSU Extension tightens its belt from 10 regions across the state to six. The redesigned southern region includes Klamath, Lake, Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties.
Riggs previously served as the regional administrator for Klamath, Lake and Harney counties, in addition to his role as KBREC director. With the transition, Riggs steps out of day-to-day management at KBREC, though he said he will continue to work closely with the Charlton.
“We’ll continue our strong relationship there,” Riggs said.
Charlton has spent his entire 24-year career at OSU. He started as a student employee at KBREC while earning his bachelor’s degree in crop and soil science, and has gone on to hold a number of positions at the station, including associate professor, instructor and senior faculty research assistant.
Since 2014, Charlton has served as the Klamath Basin Potato Faculty Scholar, focused on developing new potato varieties for Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
Charlton said he is excited to take on a new role while maintaining his research program.
“I’d assume there aren’t too many Oregon agricultural experiment station directors who stated at their respective centers as a student employee, returned as a research assistant and were hired as project leader, then appointed director,” Charlton said. “I’ll be able to bring a unique understanding of branch station operation from top to bottom.”
Riggs led KBREC for 11 years, starting in 2007. As regional director for OSU Extension, he will continue to be based out of Klamath Falls while providing leadership, administration and budget oversight over five counties.
OSU Extension programs include 4-H, SNAP-Ed, farm and horticulture research. Between research and extension, the station has 18 full-time staff and faculty plus two summer interns.
“I enjoyed my time as KBREC director,” Riggs said. “The center has a full complement of faculty and staff that work diligently to meet the needs of our communities.”
OSU Extension is reducing the number of administrative regions statewide in part due to budget cuts, with the organization’s administrative services budget being reduced $1.05 million by 2020.
Other regions include:
• Coast (Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Lincoln, Coos and Curry counties).
• Metro Area (Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties).
• West Central (Yamhill, Polk, Benton, Marion, Line and Lane counties).
• Central (Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Morrow, Jefferson, Deschutes, Wheeler and Crook counties).
• East (Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Baker, Grant, Malheur and Harney counties).
Different timelines are in place to hire administrators for each region.