Raised in Fresno, CA, Barbara says she was a "natural explorer" who enjoyed looking at the stars and was "glued to the TV" during the first moon landing. But she had no particular interest in pursuing a career in spaceflight.
"I didn't even consider that that would be something that I could do," she says. "Part of that, too, was because of the opportunities then for women. By the time I got to high school, I realized . . . pretty much what seemed open to us was to either be a nurse or a teacher."
At Stanford University, from which she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1973, Radding became fascinated by how the brain processes information. She decided classroom teaching would be a natural extension of that curiosity and received a teaching credential. Her first job, in 1974, was on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana.
In 1978, Barbara married Clay Morgan, who she had met at Stanford. Clay was from Boise, so in 1979, after a year living and teaching in Quito, Ecuador, the Morgans moved to McCall, ID. Barbara began teaching at the elementary school and Clay pursued a career as a smokejumper and writer.