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Department of Natural Resources and Society
CNR 15

College of Natural Resources
phone: (208) 885-7911
fax: (208) 885-6226

875 Perimeter Drive MS 1139
Moscow, ID 83844-1139
css_Sam Ham

Sam Ham

Office: CNR 19
Phone: (208) 885-7911
Email: sham@uidaho.edu
Mailing Address: Department of Conservation and Social Sciences, University of Idaho
PO Box 441139
Moscow, Idaho 83844-1139

College of Natural Resources
Department of Conservation Social Sciences
Director of Center for International Training and Outreach

Home Town: Moscow, Idaho
With UI Since 1977

  • Research/Focus Areas
    • Communication psychology
    • Sustainable tourism
    • Visitor behavior
    • Protected area management
    • Travelers’ philanthropy
    • Thematic communication methods applied to tourism
    • Protected area management
    • Zoos
    • Museums
    • Marketing and branding
  • Biography

    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.

  • Selected Publications

    • 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.

  • Research Projects
      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 visitor behavior. 

      • "Qualitative analysis of profound wildlife encounters" Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2004-2005 
      This 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.
      • Outreach Projects
        • 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.
        • 2009, 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.
        • 2009, 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.
        • 2007- 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.
      • Awards and Honors
        • 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 countries.
        • William C. Everhart Award from Clemson University, 2007. For lifetime contributions to the way natural and cultural heritage interpretation is conceptualized and practiced around the world.
        • 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 Interfraternity Councils, 1996. Recognition for excellence in instruction
        • Outstanding Professor Award by the Delta Chi Fraternity, 1996. Recognition for advising of the UI Delta Chi Fraternity.
        • University of Idaho Award for Teaching Excellence, 1994. The UI’s highest honor for teaching.

      Sam's Links