College of Natural Resources
Department of Conservation Social Sciences
Director of Center for International Training and Outreach
With UI Since 1977
Ph.D., Forestry, Wildlife and Range Sciences, 1982, University of Idaho
M.S., Forestry and Range Management (Wildland Recreation Management), 1978, Washington State University
B.S., Forest Management (Wildland Recreation Management), 1974, Washington State University
Protected area management
Thematic communication methods applied to tourism
Protected area management
Marketing and branding
Dr. Sam H. Ham is Director of the Center for International Training and Outreach and Professor of communication psychology and international conservation in the University of Idaho's Department of Conservation Social Sciences. Sam’s research has focused on applying communication theory to environmental conservation, interpretation and travelers’ philanthropy, and on nature-based tourism and guide training. He is author of Environmental Interpretation, which is widely considered the world’s leading text on applied interpretation, and 350 other publications. Sam’s outreach programs have reached more than 42,000 people in 44 states and 40 other countries. He is the recipient of numerous national and international awards for his teaching, research and outreach, including the University of Idaho’s Excellence in Teaching Award, its highest honor for teaching. In 2007, he received the William C. Everhart Award for his lifetime contributions to interpretation science and practice around the world.
- Ham, S. (1992) (with 2nd edition in preparation). Interpretation A Practical Guide for People with Big Ideas and Small Budgets (2nd Edition). Golden, Colorado, USA: Fulcrum/North American Press.
- Ham, S., Brown, T., Curtis, J., Weiler, B., Hughes, M., & Poll, M. (2009). Promoting Persuasion in Protected Areas─A Guide for Managers. Gold Coast, Australia: Collaborative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism.
- Smith, L., Weiler, B. & Ham, S. (2008). Measuring emotion at the zoo. International Journal of Zoo Education 44, 27-31.
- Ham, S., Weiler, B., Hughes, M., Brown, T., Curtis, J., & Poll, M. (2008). Asking Visitors to Help: Research to Guide Strategic Communication for Protected Area Management. Final Technical Research Report (Project 80039). Gold Coast, Australia: Collaborative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism.
- Powell, R. & Ham, S. (2008). Can Ecotourism Interpretation Really Lead to Pro-Conservation Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors? Evidence from the Galapagos Islands. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 16(4): 467-489.
*See CV for full list of publications, scholarship activities, outreach and honors.
This study involved
developing and evaluating theory-based communication interventions aimed
at reducing the incidence of problematic visitor behaviors at national
parks in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia. Results indicated
that the interventions were successful in persuading visitors to behave
in managerially desirable ways in two of the three parks. Specifically,
the percentage of visitors who refrained from bird feeding in Yarra
Ranges National Park, Victoria and those who voluntarily picked up
litter encountered on a trail in Mt. Field National Park, Tasmania was
significantly increased. At Yarra Ranges, a social norm appeal was the
most influential message; at Mt. Field, a personal norm appeal produced
the greatest effect, but an appeal aimed to activate an implementation
intention also produced a significant increase in compliance. An
intervention asking dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead at
Yellagonga Regional Park in Western Australia resulted in significantly
higher compliance, but extenuating circumstances cloud the conclusions
that can be drawn about its actual persuasive impact.
This study investigated the
physiological, psychological and potential behavioral impacts of
emotional appeals in zoo interpretation. Results revealed that a
high-arousal bird-of-prey interpretive program did result in impacts on
some visitor attitudes and behavioral intentions. However, these results
provide only limited support for the idea that emotional arousal at a
zoo provides an enhanced experiential platform for influencing future
- "Qualitative analysis of profound wildlife
encounters" Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2004-2005
study was based on in-depth interviews with 13 individuals who reported
having had a profound experience with a wildlife species. Following a
phenomenological approach, the research sought to understand the ways in
which profound experiences with wild animals can influence people’s
lives and to identify the key elements of profound wildlife experiences.
Results revealed a range of impacts on percipients’ lives. Many
subjects reported major “watershed” impacts that resulted in fundamental
choices later in life. The element of the experience mentioned most
frequently by subjects was their proximity to the animal(s) during their
encounter. In addition, sheer numbers of the species and inferred
communication (via eye contact) were mentioned as important factors.
- 2009, Trainer, Ceredigion County Council, Wales, UK.
Delivered two-day workshop and technical assistance to European Union
project on interpretation of mining heritage in mid-Wales, April 6-7.
Trainer, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, United Arab Emirates.
Presented a one-day workshop for United Arab Emirates tour guides, a
one-day seminar on strategic communication planning for tourism
officials, and a one-day interactive presentation for guides at the
Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 18-23.
Speaker/trainer, World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations,
Bali, Indonesia. Presented the opening keynote presentation of the
WFTGA conference and a 2-hour workshop on thematic interpretation for
guides, January 14-17.
- 2009, Trainer, US National Park
Service, Rocky Mountain National Park. Delivered one-day workshop on
thematic interpretation for park interpretive staff, June 2.
2009, Trainer, City of Townsville, Australia. Developing and
delivery training and training-of-trainers programs on communication
psychology for city planners and council members, local energy
companies, hotels, ecotourism guides and tour operators. Also developing
research capacity for government and private sectors to guide
development of theory-based communication campaigns aimed at influencing
energy consumption behaviors, January 2007-October 2009.
- College Outreach Award from the College of Natural
Resources, University of Idaho, 2009. For training and outreach programs
delivered in Idaho, in 42 states across the USA, and in 40 other
- William C. Everhart Award from Clemson
University, 2007. For lifetime contributions to the way natural and
cultural heritage interpretation is conceptualized and practiced around
- Award for Best Media-Based Training Program
from the National
Association for Interpretation, 1997. For a live satellite
television broadcast produced with the Bureau of Land Management’s
National Training Center, Phoenix, AZ.
- Outstanding Faculty
Award from the University of Idaho Panhellenic and
Councils, 1996. Recognition for excellence in instruction
Professor Award by the Delta
Chi Fraternity, 1996. Recognition for advising of the UI Delta Chi
- University of Idaho Award for Teaching
Excellence, 1994. The UI’s highest honor for teaching.