Fellows in the News

For many Americans, there is a single word that elicits images of both enduring poverty and environmental degradation: Appalachia.

New Stanford research published in the journal Society and Natural Resources paints a starkly different image of the mountainous region by focusing on an emerging movement of citizen volunteers working to clean up watersheds polluted by abandoned coal mines and sewage-clogged streams.

The study, which was co-authored by Heather Lukacs, a graduate student in Stanford's Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, and Nicole Ardoin, an assistant professor of education and center fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, finds that people share a common motivation to improve highly polluted places. The researchers also found that people were further motivated to participate in cleanup projects if they saw how other volunteers' efforts had restored previously polluted areas.

The researchers' findings about how these "remade places" encourage other projects could help organizations elsewhere recruit and motivate volunteers more effectively.

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