Nicole Ardoin awarded Haas Center’s Roland Volunteer Service Prize

Nicole Ardoin, associate professor in the Graduate School of Education, has been awarded the Haas Center for Public Service’s Miriam Aaron Roland Volunteer Service Prize, which recognizes faculty who involve students in integrating academic scholarship with volunteer service.

Nicole Ardoin, associate professor in the Graduate School of Education and a senior fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, has been awarded the 2018 Miriam Aaron Roland Volunteer Service Prize.

Nicole Ardoin

Associate Professor Nicole Ardoin is this year’s winner of the Miriam Aaron Roland Volunteer Service Prize. (Image credit: Photo courtesy of Nicole Ardoin)

The Roland Prize is an annual award presented by the Haas Center for Public Service to a faculty member who involves students in integrating academic scholarship with volunteer service to society. The $5,000 prize was established in 2001 with a gift from Stanford alumna Miriam Aaron Roland.

Members of the selection committee cited Ardoin’s commitment to service in her teaching, advising and scholarship and to providing students an opportunity to apply learning to environmental challenges.

“I feel like I share this award with all of my community partners, my incredible students and my research team here at Stanford,” Ardoin said. “It’s certainly not a prize or award I deserve on my own; it comes from collaboration with so many others.”

Interdisciplinary social science

Ardoin’s Social Ecology Lab includes interdisciplinary social-science scholars who address environmental and sustainability questions in collaboration with community and nonprofit organizations.

For example, through a nearly decade-long partnership with NatureBridge, a nonprofit providing hands-on environmental programs for youth, researchers have studied residential education in national parks. A partnership with the Girl Scouts measured the effects of an energy-saving program for the children and their families that, if taken to scale nationally, could mean energy savings for communities.

Ardoin is also the acting director of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program on Environment and Resources (EIPER) in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences and has been an adviser to doctoral students in that program and in the Graduate School of Education.

Among those writing in support of Ardoin’s nomination was EIPER doctoral student Francisca Santana. She praised Ardoin for “her desire to provide students with opportunities to both blossom as qualitative social scientists, while … problem-solving for the organization in a meaningful way.”

Santana called Ardoin “a true and unwavering model – the type of active, compassionate faculty member that I hope to be some day.”

Community-engaged scholars

Ardoin teaches two Cardinal Courses, Qualitative Interviewing and The Theory and Practice of Environmental Education. Cardinal Courses are community-engaged learning courses in which students apply classroom learning to work on social and environmental issues.

Ardoin’s students work with nonprofit and education partners, including Ohlone Elementary School in Palo Alto. There, students studied parent volunteerism with the school farm and collaborated with teachers to develop solar-energy and public speaking curricula to help students address school board representatives. A National Science Foundation-funded project with state and local parks and environmental nonprofits is currently examining how to use visits to California’s iconic redwood forests to educate visitors about environmental changes. (See a video about the course.)

“Stanford students are passionate about making a difference in the world,” Ardoin said. “I am always amazed by their dedication and willingness to go the extra mile. Whether it’s a class project or summer internship, a community partnership or a research project, they treat it with true professionalism; they go above and beyond.”

Ardoin also translates environmental issues and research findings for practitioners, funders, the public and other scholars through easy-to-access and read guides, issue briefs, conferences, classes, seminars and field trips.

Graduate School of Education doctoral candidate Indira Phukan said, “For nearly every piece of academic research she publishes, she creates a piece of practitioner literature. … This is so important. It creates a link between the academic world of research and the day-to-day actions of practitioners.”

Ardoin’s commitment to service goes beyond her role as a professor. At Stanford, she serves as an adviser to the, Jasper Ridge Biological Station, John Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities and the Haas Center.

Outside of Stanford, she is a trustee of the George B. Storer Foundation and chairs NatureBridge’s Education Advisory Council. She is an adviser to the Programs Committee of the Board of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Blue Sky Funders Forum, the North American Association for Environmental Education, the Student Conservation Association, the Children and Nature Network and Teton Science Schools, among others.

For more, visit the Haas Center for Public Service webpage.