Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture

msrcannouncementThe Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents approved an official name change to Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture’s Master of Science in resource interpretation program during their January meeting.

The program’s new title, Master of Science in resource communications, reflects the expansion and growing importance of communications in the field of natural resource management.

The program was initiated in 2003 through a collaborative partnership with the National Park Service and was based on core National Park Service competencies for park interpreters.

“As the program evolved, we grew to more reflect an academic graduate program that provides a broader perspective than just that of the National Park Service,” said Dr. Pat Stephens Williams, SFA associate professor of human dimensions of natural resources.

Students from varying academic and professional backgrounds from across the United States have graduated from the 100-percent online program. Many now hold top leadership positions in a number of the nation’s most renowned national parks, such as Glacier and Grand Teton National Parks.

Both Dr. Shelby Gull Laird, SFA assistant professor of communications and human dimensions, and Stephens Williams said that communication is an increasingly sought after employee qualification within the science and natural resources field.

“It’s important to emphasize that prospective students don’t have to be a park interpreter to benefit from our program,” Laird said. “They can be a natural resource scientist who wants to learn more about effective communication, or someone already in the communications field who wants to focus on natural resources.”

Currently, Stephens Williams and Laird are re-writing and updating a number of the program’s courses and say they anticipate adding more classes to the curriculum.

To learn more about the program, visit