The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)—a network of more than 20,000 educators, researchers, and organizational members in more than 30 countries—has recognized Nicole Ardoin with one of its highest honors for “Outstanding Contributions to Research.”
Ardoin, an associate professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, has worked for more than two decades to explore the role of education in informal settings as it relates attitudes, values, knowledge, and longer-term practices of sustainability and natural resource conservation. In this work, she has collaborated with parks, museums, aquariums, nature-based tourism programs, and philanthropic foundations, among other community-based organizations.
Ardoin has authored or co-authored more than 50 publications and advised more than a dozen PhD and masters students in environmental studies and education.
Ardoin’s research emphasizes the importance of learning experiences that are social, place-based, immersive, connected to the natural world, and relevant to everyday life for facilitating conservation and sustainability-related outcomes. Among her current projects, Ardoin is collaborating with NatureBridge, a provider of residential environmental learning in national parks, to explore socio-emotional learning in outdoor education programs. This work builds on a six-year partnership during which Ardoin and her team have pursued innovative approaches to research and evaluation in NatureBridge’s Yosemite and Golden Gate Park settings. Additionally, Ardoin is the social science lead on a newly funded National Science Foundation-supported interdisciplinary research study that considers the social and ecological effects of declining fog cover on California’s coastal redwoods.
In a prepared statement, Judy Braus, executive director of NAAEE, called Ardoin “one of the leading researchers” in efforts to advance environmental literacy. “She has a distinguished track record of scholarship, service, and achievement, as well as bringing more funding to environmental education research. Nicole is a highly sought-after collaborator, evaluation specialist, and keynote speaker on behalf of the field,” Braus wrote.
Braus singled out Ardoin’s use of targeted case studies, interviews, and social network analysis, among other methods, to develop deeper understanding of field-based practices. Braus also noted Ardoin’s commitment to developing long-term relationships with community partners.
Ruth Kermish-Allen, chair of the NAAEE research commission, coordinator of the research award process, and executive director of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, praised Ardoin for her notable mentoring of young researchers and advising of many nonprofit organizations and foundations.
Ardoin joined the Stanford faculty in 2008. She earned a PhD in forestry and environmental studies from Yale University and an MS in natural resource management from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.
Ardoin holds a number of positions with journals, associations, and organizations. She is an associate editor of Environmental Education Research and sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Environmental Education and Children, Youth, and Environments. She is an advisor to NAAEE, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s program committee, NatureBridge, the Teton Science Schools, ChangeScale, the Blue Sky Funders Forum, the Haas Center for Public Service, the Palo Alto Junior Zoo and Museum, and the George B. Storer Foundation, among others.
Ardoin accepted the award on Oct. 19 at the NAAEE’s Research Symposium, which took place in conjunction with the association’s 45th annual conference in Madison, Wis.
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