The story of my drift into rural sociology begins with my grandmother. Unimpressed with my nebulous career trajectory (chasing rodeos and driving tractor trailers), she insisted that I go to college. I consented; any attempt to defy her wishes was pointless. In my second semester of university study, I enrolled in a Principles of Sociology course. I am not sure if it was the instructor or the material, but I was hooked. That semester I declared sociology as my major.
Today, I am Professor and Chair in the Department of Sociology at Sam Houston State University. I teach, conduct basic and applied interdisciplinary research, and write professional and popular articles on rural sociological and community development issues, environmental and natural resource concerns, and related topics.
As a university teacher I strive to heighten students’ awareness of the substantive topic at hand and advance their understanding of relevant theoretical perspectives, methodological strategies, and statistical procedures. And at all times I encourage the use of sociological imagination. I currently teach Principles of Sociology, Senior Seminar in Sociology, Applied Research Methods, and Sociology of Community.
Concomitantly, my goal as a researcher is to methodically acquire, assess, and transmit robust social scientific knowledge that addresses timely community development issues and natural resource-related problems to academicians, policymakers, practitioners, and members of the general public. I am an active member of several professional organizations. I served as President of the Southern Rural Sociological Association (2008-2009). Currently, I am co-editor of the Journal of Rural Social Sciences, the official journal of the Southern Rural Sociological Association. I received the Early Career Award from the Rural Sociological Society in 2001, the Excellence in Extension and Public Service Award from the Southern Rural Sociological Association in 2007, and the Award for Excellence in Extension and Public Outreach from the Rural Sociological Society in 2010.