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Academic Experience

The purpose of the MOSS graduate residency in environmental education and science communication is to prepare professionals who will help to shape future generations. MOSS graduate students develop skills to effectively educate a diversity of learners through experiential methods, using the outdoors as an integrating context for learning about science, community and place.

Learn more about the graduate program


Through the graduate residency, we expose our practitioners to opportunities to learn and grow as educators, scientists and leaders, to serve within their communities and develop their sense of place. Our hope is that they will develop a personal philosophy that will guide their own professional service as well as their participation as active and engaged citizens.


The residency provides practitioners with direct experiences in teaching an outdoor science curriculum to learners from a diversity of both urban and rural settings. Through coursework and mentoring by faculty, practitioners critically reflect on these experiences and gain new insight to apply to their next teaching experience. The format of this learning environment acknowledges that practitioners’ own experiences are the center point around which all new learning is incorporated; this experiential learning model emphasizes direct experience, reflection, and active experimentation.

… community

The graduate residency experience provides opportunities for practitioners to develop a personal sense of place and connection to the natural and social systems that make up the MOSS community. Through coursework and teaching in the natural environment, practitioners develop an understanding of the rhythms and cycles of the local ecosystems. Because we live, work and play together, practitioners also make deep connections to the people of the MOSS community. Service opportunities and local partnerships help to extend these connections beyond the immediate MOSS social landscape and into the community at large.

… growth

The graduate residency experience provides a setting and structure in which practitioners work in small class settings and with individual mentors to help them grow in their professional identities as educators, students, and members of a community who are skilled and knowledgeable about teaching scientific and ecological literacy and understanding of the place where we live.

Students in the Graduate Residency in Environmental Education and Science Communication can expect to:

  • engage in challenging, relevant course work in ecology, science communication, place-based education, and leadership.
  • serve as an instructor in our K12 programs and earn graduate credits for participating in a mentored teaching practicum to practice and improve their teaching and communication skills.
  • learn from peers, staff and faculty from across the UI Department of Natural Resources and Society, the academic home of MOSS.
  • serve as a peer leader in the role of "Program Host". The program host leads instructor meetings, facilitates evening programs and gets special insight into the behind the scene details of MOSS operations.
  • be a member of a small, western mountain community and remote campus location. MOSS graduate students will have ample opportunities to develop and practice intentional group membership dynamics, while also being part of the larger Department of Natural Resources and Society at the University of Idaho.
  • work with a diverse group of students.

Student Outcomes:

  • Learn and integrate - Through independent learning and collaborative study, attain, use and develop knowledge in ecology, teaching theory and leadership theory
  • Think and create - Use multiple thinking strategies to identify and examine real-world examples of theories explored in coursework and their implications for teaching, leadership and ecological understanding.
  • Communicate – Acquire, articulate, create and convey intended meaning using verbal and non-verbal methods of communication that demonstrate respect and understanding in a complex society.
  • Clarify purpose and perspective –Explore one's professional identity through transformational experiences that foster an awareness of self, relationships and diverse perspectives.
  • Practice citizenship – Apply principles of ethical leadership, collaborative engagement, socially responsible behavior, respect for diversity in an interdependent world and a service-oriented commitment to advance and sustain local and global communities.

MOSS Graduate Students take on four equally important roles at MOSS:  community member, student, educator, and researcher/scholar.  Students are expected to achieve growth in all roles, towards the following professional competencies: 

1. Standards for MOSS Graduate Students as Community Members and Educators

  • Stewardship (being a good steward of the land, of MOSS spaces, equipment, yourself)
  • Timeliness (arriving promptly, knowing when to address issues, managing your time well and your group’s time well)
  • Intentionality (being purposeful in all that you do)
  • Compassion (being willing to put yourself in other people’s shoes)
  • Communication (being proactive in communication, practicing clear communication)

2. Standards for MOSS Graduate Students as Students

  • Communication (ability to write and verbally convey ideas at the graduate level, ability to deliver quality presentations)
  • Ability to use resources (ability to find journal articles, online resources, materials to support graduate work and curriculum development)
  • Time management  (ability to make effective use of time)
  • Critical thinking (ability to think critically about your work, resources that you find, the organizations that you are part of, theories relevant to your practice)

3. Standards for MOSS Graduate Students as Scholar

  • Clear goals: the scholar states the basic purpose of their work, defines objectives that are realistic and achievable and identifies important questions in the field.
  • Adequate preparation: the scholar shows an understanding of existing scholarship in the field and brings the skills and resources to move the project forward.
  • Appropriate methods: the scholar uses methods appropriate to the goals, applies them effectively and modifies procedures when needed.
  • Significant Results: the scholar achieves stated goals, contributes to the field and opens additional lines of inquiry.
  • Effective presentation: scholar employs a suitable style, effective organization, clarity and integrity to their work.
  • Reflective critique: the scholar critically evaluates their own work, brings evidence to their critique and uses evaluation to improve the quality of future work.

Would you like to earn a master’s degree in order to advance professionally and gain valuable experience, all within a 12 month period?

The MOSS master's degree program is the degree for you!

The MOSS master’s degree is tailored for professionals advancing in the fields of environmental education and science communication. This degree offers coursework in the theory and practice of place-based education, fundamentals of place-based ecology, and science communication and the environment, providing a launching pad to careers in teaching, outdoor education, science communication in museums or nature centers, natural resources and many more. In addition to coursework, students will gain 13 weeks of mentored outdoor, STEM teaching experience for K12 students. Coursework, practical teaching experience, a summer internship and a capstone project portfolio combine to complete the master’s degree requirements as well as a graduate certificate in environmental education and science communication. All student work occurs under the guidance of a University of Idaho, doctorate-level faculty major advisor in residence at MOSS.

Follow directions for application.

Are you already, or soon to be enrolled, in a graduate program at the University of Idaho or elsewhere? Would you like to incorporate the MOSS graduate certificate experience into your study plan?

Graduate certificate option

The MOSS graduate certificate in Environmental Education and Science Communication can be earned by students pursuing a Master’s of Science or doctorate in a wide variety of graduate programs. This one-year experience supports students who wish to diversify their skill set and broaden the impact of their graduate work by developing expertise in science education and communication. Students will participate in select coursework and teaching experiences at the McCall Field Campus, home of MOSS. Students in this option may be co-enrolled at any university. The certificate program is immersive in scope, yet customized to individual needs and goals. Students are advised by the thesis or dissertation advisor and committee from their home university, in collaboration with a faculty mentor at MOSS to help ensure successful completion of the certificate.

Do you have other plans or goals for your graduate experience? MOSS can help you there as well.

Please contact Graduate Program Coordinator, Leslie Dorsey, at or call 208-310-7087 for information on the potential of earning the following:

  • Master of Science in natural resources (thesis or non-thesis)
  • Master of Education (M.Ed.)
  • Graduate degree plus teacher certification

The Learning Experience

Find out about the learning experience at MOSS

McCall Outdoor Science School

College of Natural Resources

Physical Address:
1800 University Lane
McCall, ID 83638

Mailing Address:
PO Box 1025
McCall, ID 83638

Phone: 888-634-3918

Fax: 866-540-4833



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