Remembering Dr. Nina Roberts – HDNR Alumna

Nina Roberts in front of Crazy Horse monument
Nina Roberts in front of Crazy Horse monument

We mourn for and celebrate HDNR Alumna Nina Roberts (Ph.D. – 2003), who passed on March 28th surrounded by friends and family. She peacefully transitioned after a courageous 2-year battle with pancreatic cancer.  She made a lasting impact on many of the faculty who currently teach in HDNR and many more across the field of Human Dimensions of Wildlife and Conservation.  She is forever a Ram, as she was stalwart in her commitment to DEJI in nature-based recreation, in particular with her work with National Park Service.  With heavy hearts we celebrate her legacy and deep commitment to a healthy, whole, and inclusive world.


Please consider viewing (or submitting) videos that colleagues have submitted in tribute to her legacy.


A Note from Alyssa Roberts (Nina’s sister):


As you may have heard, our beloved Dr. Nina Roberts, longtime professor, mentor, scholar, and advocate in the Department of Recreation, Parks & Tourism (RPT) passed away after battling cancer. Nina was a passionate and inspiring leader, a longtime park professional and an advocate, a renowned researcher, and a sought-after expert nationally recognized for her work and commitment to social and environmental justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion with a desire to break down barriers relating to park access and recreation opportunities on public lands.
We are proud and inspired by Dr. Roberts’s dedication to civic and community engagement, overall creating a strong, resilient community that will continue to build on her extraordinary work and advocate for public lands to be enjoyed by all.
To honor Dr. Roberts’s legacy and memory, we commit to establishing an endowed scholarship fund for undergraduate students in her discipline, RPT, and related majors who can demonstrate a transformational impact on women’s leadership to promote diversity and equity and have demonstrated a commitment to community engagement.
To accomplish this goal, we need your help. The minimum amount to create an endowed fund at the university is $25,000. The benefit of an endowed fund is that it will live on in perpetuity and grow over time to realize the greatest impact on our students and the greater community. We invite you to participate in the collective investment in the community created by Dr. Roberts by making a gift to her endowed scholarship.
Please make a gift here:
Thank you.




Dr. Nina Robert’s Biography:


Nina Roberts is a dynamic educator and respected leader. Her research is highly regarded in the areas of race/ethnicity, culture and natural resources. She is also nationally known for her work pertaining to urban youth as well as women and girls outdoors including the connection to developing healthy lifestyles. Nina is both a visionary and action oriented; she’s been acknowledged for her commitment to social justice, equity & inclusion with desire to break down barriers–especially relating to diversity, park access and recreation opportunities on public lands. Her work provides leaders and managers in outdoor recreation/adventure, natural resource education, and conservation with new ideas and resources needed to respond more effectively to changing demographics, as well as cultural shifts and trends across the U.S.

Nina is a woman of famously prodigious energies. A New Yorker by birth, a social scientist by training, she was recruited and appointed to the faculty at San Francisco State University in 2005 after spending 22 years of her career in the field. She is currently a professor in the department of Recreation, Parks, & Tourism and faculty director of the Institute for Civic & Community Engagement (ICCE). Prior to her role with ICCE, Nina was the director of SFSU’s Pacific Leadership Institute. Nina joined the ranks of higher education from the National Park Service (NPS) where her NPS employment stemmed from a graduate internship in the Intermountain Region while completing her Ph.D. at Colorado State University. She later obtained permanent status as an Education & Outreach Specialist with the Natural Resource Program Center. During this time, she completed a 3-month detail in the NPS Director’s office & was one of the contributors to the groundbreaking NPS Report to Congress on Diversity Initiatives.

Prior to her work with the NPS, Nina was a Research Associate with the Student Conservation Association (SCA). Preceding this position, she was the Assistant Director of SCA’s National Urban and Diversity Programs managing several urban centers’ across the country. Her work engaged primarily young people of color and girls/women in natural resources, outdoor recreation, conservation, and career development. She continues supporting the NPS and park partners through her research involving community engagement, outreach planning, & program evaluation. Furthermore, Nina has also conducted youth development research with a variety of organizations including the U.S. Forest Service, Golden Gate National Parks  Conservancy, and East Bay Regional Parks. Additionally, she worked with a great team on visitor use/non-use studies with GGNRA as well as Marin and San Mateo County Parks.

A Fulbright Scholar in India (Indo-American Environmental Leadership Program), Nina has served on numerous boards and councils including Yosemite Institute & GirlVentures and is currently a member of the Advisory Board of UC Berkeley’s Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity. Relatedly, she has consulted with such notable organizations as the Resources Legacy Fund, the Potrero Group, and the CA Coastal Conservancy. She also plans and facilitates cultural competency trainings ranging from outdoor leaders at Princeton University to senior refuge managers with the Fish & Wildlife Service. She has also served as consultant for the Yale School of Forestry through involvement with their “Broadening the Base” conservation workshop for Land Trust Managers. Her advice is well researched and validated by personal outdoor experiences and improved upon through partnerships and training that she’s facilitated for both low and high performing organizations.

Nina has interviewed with the Boston Globe, L.A. Times, NBC News Bay Area, New America Media, The New York Times, High Country News, Public Radio International,, and National Geographic regarding diversity, equity and national parks and use of public lands. She is featured in the landmark publication, Black and Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places. Nina is a well-published author including numerous journal articles, book chapters and government General Technical Reports about social and environmental justice, women/girls outdoors, youth leadership, and about her multiracial identity. She is a valued keynote speaker and is humbled by the honors and recognition received for her work and dedication to the field of parks, recreation, conservation, with experiential learning at the core of her actions and convictions. Nina loves to hike and camp, is a drummer, enjoys her model trains, plays chess, enjoys biking, kayaking, sailing, and flying kites on the beach!