Latest News from Sul Ross June 10, 2014


    by Steve Lang, News and Publications

    While checking a camera trap site in Big Bend National Park, Cameron Goebel thought she was the victim of an elaborate prank.
    “One of our cameras had fallen off the tree, so while I’m sitting looking through photos in the other camera, I think I see a person in a bear suit, leaning against the tree, one paw on its hip, the other on the tree,” said Goebel, a Sul Ross State University junior and McNair Program scholar.
    Closer inspection revealed the second camera had caught a real live bear, with the once-tree-mounted camera in its mouth.
    “He (bear) tore it (camera) down from the tree,” Goebel said, adding. “that camera’s photos were pretty blurred.”
    Goebel, who is majoring in Natural Resource Management with a conservation biology emphasis, is working with Dr. Patricia Moody Harveson, associate professor of Natural Resource Management, to study black bear activity. Her McNair Program project is titled “Use of Camera Traps to Determine Black Bear Distribution and Habitat Use in Big Bend National Park.”
    Goebel will examine photos from cameras mounted throughout the Chisos Mountains of BBNP to determine habitat and vegetation preference, as well as a breakdown of male and female bears. The project is piggy-backed to graduate student Skyler Stevens’ research of mountain lion activity in the park. Goebel has accompanied Stevens on daylong hikes of 12-15 miles to check camera sites, download and sort photos by species.
     In all, she is monitoring 14 cameras encompassing nearly 7,800 acres.
     “I am using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to show where the camera points are and identify the elevations, vegetation and habitat to determine where the bears frequent,” she said.
    Through the first two months of her research, 11 bears had been photographed from seven different locations.
    “Cameron is doing an outstanding job on the project,” Harveson said. “The McNair program is wonderful and allows us to pair undergrads with graduate students working on bigger projects."
    Goebel, Boyd, and a 2011 Keller Central High School graduate, took some long strides to reach Sul Ross, changing location, major and making the transition from urban to rural. After spending two years at Tarrant County College, Fort Worth, with plans to be a psychology major, she changed her mind.
    “During my last semester there, I decided this (psychology) was not for me,” she said, adding that she was encouraged to look at Sul Ross by her supervisor, Robert Denkhaus, Natural Resource Manager at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge, where Goebel was a volunteer and intern.     
    “I had never heard of Sul Ross, and it was the last school that I visited. When I saw the Big Bend and the Trans-Pecos, I decided this was the place for me,” she said.
    She hopes to participate in a second McNair project, also with black bears.
    “My McNair experience has taught me a lot of self-discipline, responsibility, not to mention how hot the desert is and how dangerous it can be, as well as how beautiful this area is,” Goebel said. “It (McNair) has given me experiences I will remember the rest of my life. I feel extremely honored to be on this project. If I had gone to any other school, I would not be working on black bear or mountain lion projects as an undergraduate. There are ample amounts of opportunity out here.”
    The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program is designed to encourage first generation, low-income students and minority undergraduates to consider careers in college teaching as well as prepare for doctoral study. Students who participate in the program are provided with research opportunities and faculty mentors.
    Named in honor of the astronaut who died in the 1986 space-shuttle explosion, the program was established at Sul Ross in November 2007. It is funded through the Department of Education’s TRIO programs.
    For more information, contact Mary Bennett, McNair Program director, (432) 837-8478 or

    Dr. Tamara Olive, Sul Ross State University assistant professor of Education, recently published an article in the Journal of Phenomenological Psychology (volume 45).
    The article, “Desire for Higher Education in First-Generation Hispanic College Students Enrolled in a Graduate Counseling Program: A Phenomenological Analysis” is based on research conducted by Olive with Sul Ross graduate students in the counseling program.
    Olive noted that the motivation to higher education is rarely examined in Hispanic first-generation graduate students, those whose parents have not attended college, and there is less literature examining those whose desire for education extends to a master’s degree in counseling. Her study sought to conduct a phenomenological examination of the desire to attend college among first-generation Hispanic students enrolled in a counselor education program.
    Her research included taped interviews conducted with participants in the graduate counseling program. The phenomenological analysis resulted in one structure that identifies the influence of respected others; resilience and self-efficacy; self-denial; a need for distinction and career satisfaction; spirituality; altruism; and a view of commitment to a counseling degree as a nonlinear process.
    Phenomenology is defined as  “a philosophy or method of inquiry based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events as they are perceived or understood in human consciousness and not of anything independent of human consciousness.”
    For more information, contact Olive,


    The Theatre of the Big Bend’s upcoming stage performance of “Into the Woods” will precede the scheduled Christmas Day release of the film version by Disney Productions.
    “Into the Woods,” the Tony-winning original musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, opens June 20 at the Kokernot Outdoor Theatre, located on Alpine’s Loop Road. Performances will begin at 8:15 p.m. Friday-Sunday, June 20-July 6, excluding July 4.
    The Theatre of the Big Bend production features a very talented cast, including: Kandace Floyd, Ashley Jane Page, Bret Scott, Johanna Miller, Westin Huffman, Fernando Powers, Laura Ocañas, Benjamin Zane Ivey, Penny Hardaway, Kolbi Fowlkes, Reba Smith, and Marcelino Velázquez. The cast features many other talented actors with supporting roles and choral roles, including Jason Roman as the Narrator (a role not included in the new film).
    In addition, guest designer Ella Burnett has exchanged traditional fairytale costuming for traditional Mexican clothing and ballet folklorico costumes.
    Director Gregory M. Schwab will note his 25th anniversary of Theatre of the Big Bend involvement, beginning his association in 1989.  “Into the Woods” will highlight the 49th season of the summer theatre.
    For advanced ticket information, go to or call (432) 837-8218. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for seniors and children. Children dressing as fairy tale characters will receive $2 off their ticket prices, and will be entered in a costume contest.
    For more information, follow on social media websites: Facebook:; on Twitter @TheatreBigBend; on Instagram: theatreofthebigbend; and on our tumblr blog:

Presidential candidates on campus

Finalists for the Sul Ross State University presidency met with faculty, staff, students and the public in a series of forums Tuesday (June 10) at the Sul Ross-Alpine campus. The candidates will be at Rio Grande College's Uvalde campus Thursday (June 12) for similar meetings. (Top photo) Dr. William Kibler, Vice President for Student Affairs, Mississippi State University, and his wife, Pam, are pictured during a staff forum. (Middle) Dr. Neil Matkin (second from right), Executive Vice President, Louisiana College and Technical College System, and his wife, Janyth (center), at the public forum. (Bottom) Dr. Quint Thurman, Sul Ross interim president, and his wife, Caryn, during Tuesday's staff forum. (Photos by Steve Lang)