SFA University

October 19, 2018 Nacogdoches — Stephen F. Austin State University’s online master’s degree in educational leadership has been named one of the best programs of its kind in the nation.

AffordableCollegesOnline.org, a website dedicated to helping prospective students find the best online programs, financial aid and major, evaluated more than 3,500 colleges nationwide to find the best online master’s degree in educational leadership and ranked SFA’s program in the top 1 percent.

“We are encouraged by this recognition,” said Dr. Jeanie Gresham, chair of SFA’s Department of Secondary Education and Educational Leadership. “It spotlights the hard work of the program coordinator, Dr. Barbara Qualls, and other faculty members who diligently teach and mentor candidates for future leadership roles.”

Universities were ranked on affordability, quality, flexibility and degrees offered. SFA’s 30-hour Master of Education in educational leadership leads to principal certification. Students who have completed a master’s degree and meet other admission requirements can enroll in the 18-hour principal certification program.

"In our seventh annual survey of online learning programs across the nation, we wanted to honor the colleges and universities that are providing innovative ways for students to complete a degree," said Dan Schuessler, CEO and founder of AffordableCollegesOnline.org. "These schools are going above and beyond the industry standard to help make online education programs more accessible and affordable."

SFA’s program engages students in data-driven decision-making, special programs, law, and school and community leadership. Students also have the opportunity to practice in the industry through field experiences and internships.

For more information, visit sfaonline.info/educationalleadership.

October 18, 2018 Nacogdoches - The following students received degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University during the August commencement exercises:

Center, TX

  • Jordan DiVerdi, Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Communications and Corporate Education, Nelson Rusche College of Business
  • Valiscity Kindle-Davis, Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences, James I. Perkins College of Education, with a minor in Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Larry McDonald, Bachelor of Science in Sociology, College of Liberal and Applied Arts, with a minor in Athletic Coaching
  • Jheri-Lynn McSwain, Doctor of Philosophy in Forestry, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture
  • Ana Rafael, Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation, James I. Perkins College of Education

Joaquin, TX

  • Samantha Cheatwood, Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, Nelson Rusche College of Business
  • Johnathan Watson, Bachelor of Science in Spatial Science, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture
  • Allen Woodfin, Bachelor of Science in Geography, College of Liberal and Applied Arts, with a minor in History

Shelbyville, TX

  • Jonathan Jones, Master of Education in Educational Leadership, James I. Perkins College of Education

Tenaha, TX

  • Mimi Creasy, Master of Education in Educational Leadership, James I. Perkins College of Education

October 11, 2018 Nacogdoches — A Stephen F. Austin State University student’s desire to make a difference in animal conservation took her more than 8,000 miles from her hometown of Jasper to the bush of Zimbabwe, giving her the chance to walk with lions.

Krista Ward, a senior biology major and forestry minor, spent two and a half weeks in Antelope Park, a private game reserve set on 3,000 acres of savanna. Working with the volunteer organization African Impact in conjunction with the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust, she assisted with a project measuring the effects of captivity on four lions kept on the property.

Every other morning Ward would walk two lions at a time for an hour.

“It was really scary because they told us there were nine-month-old cubs, so I was thinking they were small,” she said. “They were huge, and there were four of them.”

Ward would flush the lions out of their enclosure by walking behind them, following them wherever they went on trails around the property. Because lions attack from behind, she made sure to keep them in front of her or to the side. When the lions lay down, she could safely crouch beside them and interact with them.

“The first time seeing lions was heart-stopping,” Ward said. “I felt really scared at first, but as I walked that went away.”

She and the other volunteers made toys for the cubs out of elephant poop, grass and sticks and took behavioral data that would later be compared to data from wild lions. Other days, they would go into the park and help on different projects, looking for elephants and giraffes and recording observational and behavioral data. They also toured a nearby village and interacted with the locals.

“They have a different way of life, and it was really interesting to see it because they do just fine,” Ward said. “They survive with what they have, and they make the most of it.”

When she decided to travel abroad, she went to SFA’s Office of International Programs for help. The office did not have a program in Africa, but the study abroad coordinator, Inés Maxit, was more than willing to assist her in finding the best options available. Ward researched programs online and brought her findings to Maxit, who reached out to other schools for feedback.

The office works closely with students through every step of the application process, making sure students have as seamless an experience as possible, Maxit said.

“I have met with many students after their study abroad experience, and I can see how they have grown,” she said. “It is no doubt a transformative experience.”

While Ward primarily took the trip to further her education, she was impacted in ways she didn’t expect.

“I have definitely changed because of this volunteer experience,” Ward said. “I was humbled by the cultural differences and other ways of life and respect other cultures in ways I didn’t before.”

Though traveling can be unsettling, she said, every moment of uncertainty was worth it.

“I hope anyone thinking about studying abroad would do it, because it was an amazing experience,” Ward said.

For more information about SFA’s study abroad programs, visit sfasu.edu/oip/244.asp.

SFA student Krista Ward, a senior biology major from Jasper, spent two and a half weeks at Antelope Park in Zimbabwe conducting research with the volunteer organization African Impact. Ward assisted with a project measuring the effects of captivity on four lions kept on the property.

By Joanna Armstrong, senior marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University.


The Stephen F. Austin State University student chapter of the Society of American Foresters clinched the national title of Society of American Foresters Quiz Bowl Champions, defeating 32 collegiate teams from across the U.S. Pictured from left to right are SFA quiz bowl team members Reid Viegut, Christopher Longman, Rachel Murray and Justin Blakeley.

October 9, 2018 Nacogdoches — For the first time in the chapter’s decades-long history, the Stephen F. Austin State University student chapter of the Society of American Foresters clinched the national title of Society of American Foresters Quiz Bowl Champions, defeating 32 collegiate teams from across the U.S. during this year’s national convention held in Portland, Oregon.

“It’s very rewarding to see the early morning practices, as well as the hard work and persistence finally pay off,” said Dr. Rebecca Kidd, assistant professor of forestry at SFA and SAF faculty advisor.

The competition, held annually at the SAF National Convention, is a quiz-based competition challenging student chapters to answer a broad range of technical and academic questions that span the discipline of forest resource management. Kidd said student chapters must sign up months in advance to be organized into a tournament bracket.

“The range of topics includes forest resources, which encompasses wildlife, habitat management, hydrology, soil science, silviculture, ecology, spatial science, agro-forestry, recreation management, policy and economics,” Kidd said.

Christopher Longman, forest management senior and president of the SFA student chapter, said when forming a quiz bowl team, the chapter makes sure to include students from a range of forestry majors offered through the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture.

“One of the questions we answered correctly was something we just learned in forest hydrology two weeks ago,” Longman said.

Although the team displayed a strong showing throughout the competition, besting universities such as Pennsylvania State University and the University of California at Berkley, Longman admits there were a few nerve-wracking moments.

“In our quarterfinal match, we went into overtime in sudden-death format,” Longman said. “That was probably the most nervous moment we experienced.”

Longman added that the team’s victory is a definite reflection on the quality academics offered at SFA.

To learn more about the majors offered through SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, visit atcofa.sfasu.edu.

October 9, 2018 Nacogdoches — As a marketing coordinator and camp counselor for middle school girls, Maxine McFadden knew uprooting her life to pursue a degree wasn’t an option. However, thanks to a new online degree program at Stephen F. Austin State University, she can now work toward her educational goals.

Recently, SFA launched a completely online bachelor’s degree in human sciences with an emphasis in human development and family studies. For McFadden and other nontraditional students this program is a perfect fit.

“Being enrolled in this online program has helped me continue to work full time while providing me with the flexibility of going to school on my time,” McFadden said. “I didn't have to uproot my family to go to school. I was able to remain in Tyler and continue my everyday life.”

Through this program, students learn to become “caretakers of our society,” said Dr. Rachel Jumper, assistant professor in SFA’s School of Human Sciences. Students learn to understand the growth, change and development of children, adults and the family while integrating a lifespan, multi-contextual and family systems approach.

“The best part is I still get one-on-one help from my professors because of virtual office hours,” McFadden said. “My biggest concern about the online program was that I wasn't going to be able to get the personal attention I needed. I was very wrong about that.

“I work 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and it is hard to work full time and go to school. The online program has given me freedom to work on school work when it is convenient for me, but it still gives me strict deadlines,” she said. 

Along with the new program, SFA has partnered with Tyler Independent School District Head Start to offer a place for SFA students in the Tyler area to conduct observation and volunteer hours, which are requirements of the program.

Upon graduation, students have a variety of career options, including becoming early intervention specialists, lobbyists, directors of child care and senior citizen facilities, Head Start teachers, parent educators, camp directors and more.

“The most valuable lesson I have learned from this program is to not give up. You always have someone in your corner cheering you on and helping you,” McFadden said. “Everyone in the program cares about children and their families and graduating quality people from this program.”

To learn more, visit sfaonline.info/human-development-and-family-studies.

By Kasi Dickerson, senior marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University. 


Two performances of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” on Wednesday, October 17, will open the 2018-19 Children’s Performing Arts Series at SFA

October 5, 2018 Nacogdoches – The Children’s Performing Arts Series at Stephen F. Austin State University will open its 2018-19 season on Wednesday, October 17, with two performances of the Virginia Repertory Theatre’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Based on the classic story by Washington Irving, this musical version with book, music and lyrics by Paul Deiss takes audiences to Tarry Town to join Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones, the lovely Katrina Van Tassel and, of course, the Headless Horseman, as they live the story made famous by the legend.

“This autumnal classic is faithful to the original story written in 1819 and will thrill and perhaps chill audiences,” said Diane Peterson, SFA Fine Arts Box Office manager and director of the children’s series. “But we promise it is not too scary for young audiences.”

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” targets children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Performances are at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in W.M. Turner Auditorium, located in the Griffith Fine Arts Building on the SFA campus. Tickets are $7.50 for individuals and $6 per person for groups of 20 or more.

Presented by the SFA College of Fine Arts, the Children’s Performing Arts Series annually features five shows designed to entertain, educate and engage young audiences of all ages, according to Peterson. Study guides provide suggestions for pre- and post-performance activities and discussions for teachers to use in the classroom. A comprehensive study guide for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” may be accessed at cpas.sfasu.edu.

Other upcoming CPAS performances include “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” on Tuesday, November 27; “I Have a Dream” on Friday, February 1; “Madeline and the Bad Hat” Wednesday, March 6; and “The Jungle Book” on Thursday, May 16.

To order tickets, call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS. Visit the CPAS website at cpas.sfasu.edu for additional information.


Stephen F. Austin State University’s Department of Geology will join the American Geosciences Institute in celebrating Earth Science Week with an event from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, on the third floor of the Miller Science Building. During an open house, guests will have the opportunity to use the augmented reality sand table. Photographer Paul Brandes, geology professor and current president of the Houston Gem and Mineral Society, will present “Epic Earth, The Art of Geology” at 6 p.m.

October 2, 2018 Nacogdoches — Stephen F. Austin State University’s Department of Geology will join the American Geosciences Institute in celebrating Earth Science Week during an event from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 16, on the third floor of the Miller Science Building.

For the open house event, visitors who have minerals, rocks or fossils they would like to have identified are encouraged to bring them for a free identification service. Guests also will have the opportunity to use an augmented reality sand table and create their own artwork.

At 6 p.m., photographer Paul Brandes, geology professor at Lone Star College-Montgomery and current president of the Houston Gem and Mineral Society, will present “Epic Earth, The Art of Geology” in Miller Science, Room 335.

“Our first Earth Science Week celebration is designed to increase awareness and help our community gain a better understanding of the planet we call home,” said Dr. Wesley Brown, chair of the department. “The enthusiastic faculty and students are eager to open the doors of the Department of Geology to the community and answer all Earth science-related questions.”

This year’s theme, “Earth as Inspiration,” emphasizes artistic expression as a unique, powerful opportunity for geoscience education and understanding, according to Dr. Liane Stevens, assistant professor of geology.

”The Earth is inspirational in so many ways – from children who are inspired to collect rocks, to those who travel to see grand scenery, to those who conduct research,” Stevens said. “The faculty and students in the Department of Geology are excited to work together to share our inspiration with the public.”

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Stevens at stevenslm@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-2024.

By Joanna Armstrong, senior marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University.

September 27, 2018 Nacogdoches — Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host the monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 11 in the Brundrett Conservation Education Building at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, located at 2900 Raguet St.

SFA horticulture alumnus Dr. Andrew King will present, “You Can Take the Boy out of East Texas, but You Can’t Take the Azaleas Out of His Garden: Growing Ornamentals in a Challenging Environment.”

King was raised in Tenaha, Texas, on a small retail nursery that was founded in 1915 by his great-grandfather. Through four generations, the nursery has remained in the King family. His father, mother and grandmother all instilled in him a love of horticulture. When it was time to further his education at the university level, it was an easy decision. King received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture with an emphasis in horticulture from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2004, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University in 2010 and 2015, respectively.

He has served as a lecturer in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at TAMU since January 2016, teaching many of the plant production courses, including nursery management and production, and plant propagation, as well as some introductory courses, such as garden science. Recently, he has introduced a class titled “Wild Edible, Cultivated and Poisonous Herbs” that focuses on the medicinal, poisonous and culinary aspects of plants that people often overlook. His research interests include plant propagation, trialing plant materials and nursery crop improvement.

The Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series is held the second Thursday of each month and includes a rare-plant raffle after the program. The lecture is free and open to the public, but donations to the Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series fund are always appreciated.

Parking is available at the PNPC and Raguet Elementary School, located at 2428 Raguet St. For more information, call (936) 468-4129, or email sfagardens@sfasu.edu.


Stephen F. Austin State University’s Department of Agriculture received a $3,000 student recruiting grant from the U.S. Poultry Foundation during the 2018 International Poultry Expo held in Atlanta, Georgia. The grant will assist the SFA Department of Agriculture in hosting its annual College Experience Day, as well as other recruiting efforts. Pictured, representatives present Dr. Joey Bray, chair of SFA’s Department of Agriculture and director of poultry science, second from right, with the grant check.

September 26, 2018 Nacogdoches — Stephen F. Austin State University’s Department of Agriculture received a $3,000 student recruiting grant from the U.S. Poultry Foundation during the 2018 International Poultry Expo held in Atlanta, Georgia.

The grant will assist the SFA Department of Agriculture in hosting its annual College Experience Day, as well as other recruiting initiatives. The department’s College Experience Day draws hundreds of high school students from across the region to engage in hands-on agricultural activities at the university’s 642-acre Walter C. Todd Agricultural Research Center. Among the unique initiatives offered during the event is the opportunity for high school students to tour the SFA Broiler Research Center, which works closely with the poultry industry to discover, evaluate and interpret better methods of poultry production.

The foundation awarded recruiting grants totaling $282,500 to 35 colleges and universities across the United States with either a poultry science department or a poultry studies program. The student recruiting program dates to 1994 when the foundation was established to provide annual recruiting funds to attract students to poultry studies and ultimately into careers in the poultry industry. The grant was made possible, in part, from an endowing foundation gift from Frost, a CPA firm.


Members of the Stephen F. Austin State University timbersports team, the Sylvans, won the second annual Lumberjack Match held at the Ouachita County Fair in Camden, Arkansas. During the competition, the Sylvans competed against three other universities in a series of physical timbersport events. Pictured from left are Cheyenne Tant, Katie Adams, Blaine Turner, Dr. Jeremy Stovall, Brody Capps, Ian Erickson, John Mike Arnett and Keith Ballard.

September 18, 2018 Nacogdoches — Members of the Stephen F. Austin State University timbersports team, the Sylvans, personified the university’s mascot during the second annual Lumberjack Match held at the Ouachita County Fair in Camden, Arkansas.

During the Lumberjack Match, participating universities competed in a range of traditional timbersport events, such as crosscut sawing, bowsawing, log chopping, and axe and knife throwing.

The Sylvans placed first in men’s crosscut sawing; men and women’s bowsawing; Jack and Jill crosscut sawing; single buck crosscut sawing and knife throwing. The team took second and fourth place in women’s crosscut sawing and axe throwing, respectively.

“Our students were professional and did an excellent job representing the university and the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture,” said Dr. Jeremy Stovall, associate professor of forestry at SFA and Sylvans faculty advisor.

The University of Arkansas at Monticello finished in second place, followed by Louisiana Technical University and Louisiana State University.

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