The mission of the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture (ATCOFA) is to maintain excellence in teaching, research and outreach; to enhance the health and vitality of the environment through sustainable management, conservation and protection of our forests and natural resources; to seek solutions to environmental problems through the use of basic and applied science; and to enhance the production and economic viability of agricultural commodities. The principles supporting this mission include:
- Students receive classroom and field-based experiences to prepare them for their professional careers. Academic courses provide learning opportunities that encourage and inspire students to approach forest resource, environmental, agricultural and social issues in a critical yet creative manner, to identify and analyze key elements, and to articulate ethical solutions.
- The college has a strong commitment to a research program that encourages basic and applied studies in natural resource management, environmental topics, agricultural production and social values. Although research projects are centered predominantly in East Texas, the issues addressed and results obtained often have national and international implications.
- A service program provides professional expertise, information and training. Practicing professionals, industrial landowners, timber investment management organizations, family forest owners, public agencies, non-government organizations, farmers, ranchers, poultry producers and society in general are beneficiaries of these services.
The forestry, environmental science and agriculture complex contains classrooms, laboratories, student computer rooms, greenhouses, a center for livestock production and geographic information systems (GIS) laboratories. The Piney Woods Conservation Center, an off-campus facility located on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, provides an ideal setting for field-based studies. Excellence within the ATCOFA is reflected in a variety of other research centers and institutes, including the Center for Applied Studies in Forestry, the Columbia Geospatial Service Center, the Center for Pharmaceutical Crops, the Poultry Science Center, the Forest Resources Initiative, the East Texas Native Plants Center, the Institute for White-tailed Deer Management and Research, and the Waters of East Texas (WET) Center.
The campus is situated near the Stephen F. Austin Experimental Forest, the East Texas Plant Materials Center, five wilderness areas that are part of four national forests and several million acres of private commercial forests. The university also is situated in the heart of the nursery/landscape, beef cattle and poultry industries of East Texas. Forestry, environmental science, spatial science and agriculture classes take advantage of these resources for hands-on education and research opportunities. Forestry, environmental science, spatial science and agriculture programs benefit from cooperative efforts with industry and producers.