SFA University


Plants, such as the Salvia coccinea 'Summer Jewel White' pictured above, will be available at SFA Gardens’ annual Garden Gala Day Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 6 and 7 at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, located at 2900 Raguet St.

January 8, 2024 — Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host its annual Garden Gala Day Plant Sale from 9am to 2pm April 6 and 7 at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, located at 2900 Raguet St.

The sale will feature an array of hard-to-find, “Texas-tough” plants, including exclusive SFA introductions, Texas natives, edibles, tropicals, perennials, shrubs and trees, with an emphasis on pollinator-friendly selections. The featured plants are produced by SFA Gardens staff members and volunteers. A full list of available plants will be posted at sfasu.edu/sfagardens two weeks before the sale.

This event raises benefits the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, Gayla Mize Garden and Kingham Children’s Garden.

Parking will be available at SFA’s Janice A. Pattillo Early Childhood Research Center, located at 2428 Raguet St. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon for their plants.

For more information, call (936) 468-4404 or email sfagardens@sfasu.edu.

About Stephen F. Austin State University
Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at sfasu.edu.

December 14, 2023 - Stephen F. Austin State University construction management graduating seniors in the James I. Perkins College of Education’s School of Human Sciences celebrated the end of the semester with hard hat ceremony Dec.1. The graduating seniors are pictured holding hard hats: front row, from left, are Sally Ann Swearingen, SFA professor of interior design and construction management coordinator; Charles Gelvin; Leoncio Escalante; Nolan Mote; Isaac Ramirez; and Dr. Nathaniel Walker, SFA associate professor of human sciences. Also in attendance were members of SFA’s construction management external advisory board: back row, from left, are Chris Oliveria, Bossworth Steel Erectors in New Braunfels; Dan Hlavac, director of Harvey Builders in Houston; John Glaze, president of Fast Track Specialties in Houston; and Jordan Elder, senior project manager at Drewery Construction in Nacogdoches. The ceremony and the gifted hard hats are provided by the 18 members of SFA’s construction management advisory board.

December 13, 2023 - After winning a $250 prize for being the largest group to attend the Stephen F. Austin State University Alumni Association’s Senior Send-Off, a group of students from SFA’s DeWitt School of Nursing decided to pay it forward and donate their winnings to the Nacogdoches Treatment Center. The students and Alumni Association presented the donation to the center’s director, Kathy Strong, Monday, Dec. 11.

December 7, 2023 — Stephen F. Austin State University construction management students in the James I. Perkins College of Education’s School of Human Sciences will host an open house featuring the tiny home they built this fall from 10am to noon December 9 at the Village Nac community at 1188 County Road 823 in Nacogdoches.

Starting in September, 10 students enrolled in the “Building Construction Systems” course worked together to build the 16-by-18-foot home on-site at Village Nac, a faith-based shelter for those experiencing poor mental health and homelessness. Unlike the previous tiny homes, this larger home features a full bathroom, kitchen and den, as well as a bedroom.

Sally Ann Swearingen, SFA professor of interior design and construction management, described the construction as a “team effort.” Students in the “Building Construction Systems” course handled framing, and students in the “Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing” course completed the electrical and plumbing work.

“The community should know these students are using their ability and talent to give back to a worthwhile project instead of building things that don’t make a difference in people’s lives,” Swearingen said. “They are also getting to work with a master electrician and plumber to make sure it is done correctly.”

The project was funded by a second grant from SFA’s Center for Applied Research and Rural Innovation, which funded the construction of four tiny homes last year at Village Nac.

Established in 2019, the Perkins College of Education construction management program offers a multidisciplinary degree by collaborating with SFA’s Nelson Rusche College of Business, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, and College of Sciences and Mathematics. Nearly 100 students are enrolled in the program.

As part of continued efforts to raise money for building more homes, the construction management students also will build a tiny home on a trailer that will be sold. Swearingen said the cost of building a larger tiny home is $22,000. She hopes to be able to build two or three more of these homes next year.

“We hope people come out and see what the students have been doing for the last few months,” Swearingen said. “They are gaining hands-on experience while giving back to the local community.”

For more information on SFA’s construction management program, visit gosfa.com/construction.

About Stephen F. Austin State University
Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at sfasu.edu.

November 22, 2023 — Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host the monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7pm December 14 in the Brundrett Conservation Education Building at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center.

Dr. David Creech, director of SFA Gardens, will present “Is the Pineywoods Native Plant Center a Case Study of Divine Intervention… or Maybe Not? Capitalizing on the Best Plants, Plans and People to Create a Green Resource for the Gulf South.”

After a long career in SFA’s Department of Agriculture, Creech retired in 2007 and returned to serve as the gardens director in a part-time position. The 138-acre SFA Gardens is an umbrella for numerous theme gardens and collections of trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous perennials and fruit. These serve as a valuable germplasm resource for the Gulf South.

Creech received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in 1970, his master’s degree from Colorado State University in 1972, and his doctoral degree from TAMU in 1978.

Since arriving at SFA in 1978, Creech’s research interests have been varied and include urban tree evaluation, blueberry and golden kiwifruit evaluation, horticultural crop nutrition studies, new plant introductions for the ornamental horticulture industry, endangered native plant rescue, research and reintroduction, and finding sustainable solutions to environmental horticultural concerns.

He is the author of numerous scholarly and trade articles, and he has accumulated a long list of international consultancies since 1981 to Pakistan, Guatemala, Mexico, Nepal, Israel, Chile, New Zealand and China.

In 2022, Creech received the American Society for Horticultural Science’s Outstanding International Horticulturalist Career Award, which recognizes a member who has made a valuable contribution to international horticultural science, education, research and/or outreach for a period of 10 or more years.

Creech has served as president of the Native Plant Society of Texas, the Southern Region American Society of Horticulture Science, and the International Plant Production Society Southern Region.

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 lecture series fund are always appreciated.

Parking is available at the PNPC, 2900 Raguet St., or Raguet Elementary School, 2708 Raguet St.

For more information, email sfagardens@sfasu.edu.

About Stephen F. Austin State University
Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at sfasu.edu.

November 9, 2023 - You don’t have to be on campus to take advantage of a high-quality, affordable education at Stephen F. Austin State University. You also don’t have to be available to attend classes between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“Most of our online students are nontraditional,” said Megan Weatherly, executive director of the Lumberjack Learning Commons at SFA. “From caregivers to full-time workers to students who are constantly on the move, online programs provide them the flexibility and access to reach their educational goals.”

Three SFA alumni — a working mom of four, an SFA student now advising other SFA students, and a high schooler moving frequently to follow her family’s ministry work — know this firsthand and share their experiences for National Distance Learning Week, Nov. 6-10.

Ashley Esquivel, Bachelor of Business Administration in general business, 2021

Family obligations required Esquivel to take a 14-year hiatus from college, but she returned to SFA virtually in 2018 to earn her BBA in general business in 2021. She learned about the fully online degree offered by SFA’s Nelson Rusche College of Business from a fortuitous trip to a mall in Corpus Christi, which was hosting a college fair.

“To my surprise, there was a recruiter from SFA there, and the teenager in me came out in front of my embarrassed kids as I approached the booth to say ‘Hi!’ and share my love for the school,” Esquivel said. “I learned that SFA had an online program where I could continue my education in the comfort of my own home and still finish what I started many years ago. In all honesty, I hated knowing that I did not complete my education and did not have the heart to finish anywhere else.”

As a full-time working mom of four in Robstown, Esquivel struck a new balance between home life, schoolwork and kids.

“My kids always knew if I had something important coming up because I would not leave my desk area, and they would leave Post-it notes of encouragement for me,” she said. “The most rewarding part of my online education was sharing it with my children, knowing that they made sacrifices as well to help me around the house and with each other. My success was theirs.”

Support from her children and SFA professors ensured Esquivel’s success as an online student.

“I had amazing professors who completely understood home life and the glitches and mishaps that go along with that,” she said. “If there was any service interruption or issues, they got me the help I needed.”

After earning her bachelor’s from SFA, Esquivel leveraged her online learning skills to earn a Master of Business Administration through the online program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Now she’s looking for the perfect opportunity to put her degrees to work and stick close to her family as a substitute teacher for business education courses in the local school district.

“There are so many young adults that could benefit from business education as far as the programs and how to use those tools in the world,” Esquivel said. “I would love to be an ambassador for SFA to promote the learning I gained from the school and educate others in their future.”

Esquivel encourages those like her to continue their education.

“If you are unsure of pursuing your degree because you have a family, take that chance and do it,” she said. “I met some great classmates along the way who were from all over the state of Texas and had families with careers of their own and still managed to graduate from SFA’s online program.”

In addition to new career possibilities to help her family, the sense of accomplishment made all the work worthwhile, Esquivel added.

“I am glad I finished what I started all those years ago and was able to walk the stage with my children in the audience and my family there with me by my side,” she said. “It was the most amazing feeling of accomplishment I had ever had, and I will forever be grateful for the staff, fellow peers and my family for supporting me the entire time.”

Deanna McCollum, Bachelor of Science in human sciences, 2022

Despite working on campus, McCollum chose the online BS in human sciences with an emphasis in human development and family studies — the first online undergraduate degree program SFA ever launched — to ensure her classes would not interfere with her job.

The degree program, which is offered in the James I. Perkins College of Education’s School of Human Sciences, provides an in-depth understanding of growth, change and development of children, adults and families that is essential for professional careers and service-oriented professions.

By fall 2019, McCollum had just completed about seven years as a dispatcher for SFA’s University Police Department and was beginning an administrative assistant position in the School of Human Sciences.

“I was actually a multidiscipline major at the time,” she said. “Still, after a semester of working in the School of Human Sciences, I realized that human development and family studies was something that I took a great liking to.”

McCollum’s degree path led her to the next step in her career — an academic advising position in the Perkins College of Education.

“This major is so varied in career options, and the list is truly endless,” she said. “The HDFS program has a practicum in the degree, and I was able to secure mine in the advising office, where I eventually secured my current position.”

In December, McCollum will graduate with a Master of Science in human sciences degree, which she’s also earning online from SFA.

“I love how I get to apply my degree every day with students, and the ability to continue with my master's degree is an added bonus that has also helped in advising,” she said.

Brianna West, Bachelor of Science in human sciences, 2022

West, a youth services librarian at the Riter C. Hulsey Public Library in Terrell, was drawn to the BS in human sciences with an emphasis in human development and family studies because she has always been interested in families, sociology, psychology and anthropology.

“The way that the mind works, how we are all interconnected and independent from one another has been a lifelong topic of interest to me,” West said. “I think this came from a combination of being extremely close to my family and going to counseling at a young age to help me in my personal journey with being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.”

West’s father is a minister, which required her family to move frequently, so she was homeschooled for middle and high school. SFA’s dual-credit program for high school students offered classes that she could take online wherever her family might be living. In addition, SFA provided the human sciences degree, a completely online undergraduate option that fit her interests.

“The online option was also very affordable for my parents’ ministry budget,” West said. “And it allowed me to begin working on my undergraduate degree right after completing high school at the age of 15.”

Despite her college career coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, West maintained a 3.9 GPA; served as secretary and interim president of Phi Upsilon Omicron, the family and consumer sciences honor society; and was inducted in Omicron Delta Kappa, a multi-generational honor society that excels in recognizing and connecting collaborative and inclusive leaders. She attended meetings remotely and traveled to campus for special occasions that required her in-person assistance.

“Even though I wasn’t in the classroom with my classmates and professors, I never felt alone,” West said. “The professors are amazing and dedicated to helping students excel, and the staff at SFA was extremely supportive in helping me achieve my goals. I always knew they were an email or a Zoom meeting away to help answer questions, lend advice or assist in helping me get to where I needed to go.”

West’s college career also coincided with SFA’s launching of eight-week courses, which helped her finish her degree faster.

“I finished my degree far faster than I otherwise would have been able to because of mini-mesters,” West said. “I had extra study time with fewer distractions, which I think was beneficial to my graduating with summa cum laude honors.”

In addition to her degree, West has earned her Certified Family Life Educator designation through the National Council of Family Relations.

“I am able to assess, assist and advocate for my community in ways that I never would have been able to without the education and experience I gained at SFA,” West said. “I would 100% recommend SFA’s online programs to anyone interested in earning their degree.”

From communications studies to nursing to sustainability, SFA’s more than 30 online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offer flexibility and an opportunity to continue a degree or try a new career path. For more information, visit sfasu.edu/online.

October 26, 2023 — Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host its annual “Deck the Halls: Using Evergreens to Decorate for the Holidays” seminar from 9 a.m. to noon December 2 at the Brundrett Conservation Education Building in the Pineywoods Native Plant Center.

Guests will join Dawn Stover, study leader with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s East Texas Plant Materials Center, to create elegant wreaths, garlands and centerpieces using materials from nature. Participants will take home several creations.

In addition to the traditional wreaths and garlands, Stover will introduce crafts using natural items from the garden. All materials will be provided.

"Deck the Halls is a fun way to create distinctive holiday decorations using unique plant material from the SFA Gardens collection,” Stover said. “This workshop is a delightful way to get crafty and into the holiday spirit."

Class size is limited for this popular event, and advance registration and payment are required. Registration opens November 15. Tickets are $25 for SFA Gardens members and $30 for nonmembers.

To register starting November 15, call (936) 468-4404 or send an email to sfagardens@sfasu.edu.

About Stephen F. Austin State University
Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at sfasu.edu.


Stephen F. Austin State University’s horticulture program will host the annual Fall Plant Fair from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at the SFA Plantery, located at 1924 Wilson Drive behind the Agriculture Building.

October 25, 2023 - Stephen F. Austin State University’s horticulture program will host its sixth annual Fall Plant Fair from 5 to 7 p.m. November 2, 2023 at the SFA Plantery, located at 1924 Wilson Drive behind the Agriculture Building.

Plants available for purchase include a variety of winter annuals, such as pansies, violas, wallflowers, sweet alyssum and snapdragons. All are winter hardy and perform well in East Texas climates. Plants will sell for $2.50 per pot.

“Our horticulture program is thriving, and the Fall Plant Fair is an excellent showcase of our students’ hard work and the energy and excitement within our department,” said Dr. Jared Barnes, associate professor in the Department of Agriculture and steward of the SFA Plantery. “We can’t wait to show visitors our new trial garden and many of the projects our students have created. We welcome people to come tour the Plantery and buy some plants as all proceeds support student learning.”

The Plantery also will be celebrating SFA’s centennial with the grand opening of a new terraced trial garden that over 30 students worked on in the prior school year. In the spirit of celebration, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place to begin the festivities, followed by cake, music, fall-themed drinks and s’mores. The garden’s creation was funded by SFA’s Center for Applied Research and Rural Innovation.

SFA’s Plantery is a program rooted within the Department of Agriculture where students grow and raise plants in the micro-farm Sprout, the greenhouses and the teaching gardens around the Agriculture Building. This event is also an opportunity to tour the plant-growing operation and the projects students have been developing, such as the gravel garden and hydroponic system.

For more information about the horticulture program, visit sfasu.edu/horticulture. For information on the Fall Plant Fair, contact Barnes at barnesj@sfasu.edu.


October 20, 2023 - The A Cappella Choir at Stephen F. Austin State University will present the program “Sacred and Profane” when the student choir performs at 7:30pm Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023 in Cole Concert Hall, Wright Music Building, on the SFA campus.

Conducted by Dr. Michael Murphy, director of choral activities at SFA, the choir will perform works by Robert Pearsall, Alfred Schnittke, Leonard Bernstein, Josu Elberdin and Joel Thompson. The program of work “brings together the sacred and secular through beautiful and evocative choral music,” according to Murphy.

The concert also features the talents of Dr. Ron Petti, collaborative pianist; Tate Ashby, graduate student conductor from Lufkin; and Ryan Herriage, graduate student conductor from Sulphur Springs.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. To purchase tickets, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit sfasu.edu/boxoffice. For additional information, contact the SFA School of Music at (936) 468-4602.

October 20, 2023 — Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host the monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. November 9 in the Brundrett Conservation Education Building at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center.

Megan Proska, senior director of horticulture at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, will present “Garden Design: Creating a Dynamic Landscape.”

Proska has been with the Dallas Arboretum since September 2014 and assumed her current role in July 2023. She is responsible for designing displays and plantings as well as maintaining the garden aesthetic. She has previous experience working at Kew Gardens and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

Proska graduated as a double major in horticulture and entomology from Texas A&M University. In her free time, she shares her passion for plants through social media, educating people on plants in pop culture and intriguing plant history.

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 lecture series fund are always appreciated.

Parking is available at the PNPC, 2900 Raguet St., or Raguet Elementary School, 2708 Raguet St.

For more information, email sfagardens@sfasu.edu.

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