2019 Arthur Irving Scholars named at Acadia University

Four students have been awarded prestigious 2019 Arthur Irving Scholarships in Environmental Science at Acadia University. The recipients, from schools in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Ontario, exemplify an extraordinary commitment to changing the way humans care for the planet through research in fields including marine biology, genetics, waste reduction, and protecting species at risk. They are all outstanding young scholars who demonstrate leadership and compassion combined with an interest in pursuing scientific research.   

This year’s recipients of the Arthur Irving undergraduate scholarships are Olivia Crooks from Coldbrook, NS; Natalie Koopman from Perth Road, ON; Abby Legere from Yarmouth, NS; and Sophie Visser from Waterville, NS.

“I want to extend my heartiest congratulations to Olivia, Natalie, Abby, and Sophie for the work they have done and for earning this exceptional recognition from the Arthur Irving family,” said Dr. Peter Ricketts, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “I know that each of these students will find the learning environment at Acadia rewarding and challenging, exactly matching their expectations. The Arthur Irving Scholarship attracts students who have a passion for the environment and have set ambitious academic and career goals for themselves. The scholarship enables successful applicants to leverage the research capacity of the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre. We are truly fortunate for the support from the Irving family that is unlike any offered elsewhere in Canada, and for the young scholars that are ultimately attracted to Acadia.”

Established by Arthur Irving, Chancellor Emeritus of Acadia University, and the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation, these scholarships are awarded to students who have demonstrated academic and leadership skills and who have a commitment to making a difference in how society views and manages our natural environment and its resources. Scholarship recipients will benefit from the world-class facilities available to them in the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens that will enrich their learning experience and their research capabilities. The selected students receive $15,000 annually for four years while they pursue their undergraduate degrees.

“Congratulations to Olivia, Natalie, Abby and Sophie on being named this year's scholars," says Arthur Irving. "I was happy to meet Olivia, Abby and Sophie on the Acadia campus during the interview process and speak with Natalie from her home in Perth Road, Ontario.  It was then that I learned of their outstanding accomplishments as students and leaders in their community."

"Over their next four years at Acadia as Arthur Irving scholars, they will receive not only the financial support the scholarship offers but will be mentored by past recipients and presented with important undergraduate opportunities in research projects at the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre.  I am very proud of the Arthur Irving Scholars at Acadia and I always enjoy seeing them in the fall at the Scholars' Dinner and hearing from them over the years."

“The K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens are two remarkable facilities that bring together students and faculty in an environment that inspires creativity and innovation”, said Ricketts. “The Irving’s foresight when designing these facilities together with their annual investment in bringing bright young minds to Acadia’s campus is a perfect and unbeatable combination. Previous scholarship recipients are today pursuing leading edge, award-winning research which is testament to how important it is for young people to be given the opportunity to pursue their ambition for making our world a better place for everyone.”

Meet the 2019 Arthur Irving Scholars

Olivia Crooks

An Honours with Distinction graduate of Central Kings Rural High School, Olivia Crooks from Coldbrook, Nova Scotia, was at the leading edge of creating an inclusive sports program at her school when she helped form Basketball Team Unified in her grade nine year. In 2018, she received the Lieutenant Governor’s Respectful Citizenship Award along with her teammates for their leadership and commitment to Team Unified. A multi-sport athlete, Olivia is also a certified lifeguard and swim instructor and has been lifeguarding at local pools since 2016. At Acadia, Olivia will pursue her Bachelor of Science in Biology where she will use the opportunities provided to her through her Irving Scholarship to begin her research into the effect environmental contaminants have on human health. Her goal is to pursue a career in medical research, possibly as a pathologist. She is also interested in genetics and the mutations that result from the presence of chemicals and genetically modified organisms in our environment. Her goal is to break the chain of human engineered events that are leading to climate and environmental changes that threaten the health of all species on our planet.

Natalie Koopman

Natalie Koopman of Perth Road, Ontario, says she is at her best when in nature. As a result, she is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Acadia University with hopes of focusing on marine biology so she can further explore her fascination with oceans and use her Irving Scholarship to perform meaningful research on marine ecosystems. A graduate of the IB program at Regiopolis Notre Dame School in Kingston, Natalie co-captained her school basketball team, played rugby, and has been entrusted with various leadership responsibilities including being a peer Mental Health Ambassador. In addition to school-related activities and holding a part-time job, has earned her National Lifesaving certifications, is currently finishing a Water Safety Instructor course that will allow her to teach swimming lessons, and officiates community basketball tournaments. In 2018 Natalie ran a week-long camp in Fort Hope, teaching girls from the Eabametoong First Nation about the meaning and value of sports including basketball and soccer. This camp experience informed Natalie’s views about the importance of Canada’s reconciliation with Indigenous people and reinforced her strong desire, fueled by her visits to Canada’s National Parks and an IB trip to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, to make a lasting impact on the environment by reversing the damage done to the earth by climate change. 

Abby Legere

A graduate of Rothesay Netherwood School, Abby Legere is from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and grew up with a passion and concern for the environment. Her ambition is to find the means to reduce the environmental footprint of humans through her studies in biology at Acadia and the opportunities her Irving Scholarship will offer her to perform hands-on research. Abby was a three-sport athlete at RNS (hockey, soccer, volleyball) in addition to being a Prefect and maintaining an academic average that allowed her to graduate in June of 2019 with an Honours with Distinction designation. Her most rewarding activity at RNS was being a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters and being paired with an elementary school mentee from whom she learned how to be a positive role model and leader. Abby knows that accomplishing serious goals requires determination, resilience, and a willingness to engage in new experiences. During her three years at RNS she was involved with Outflow, a program that served food to the homeless population in the Saint John area, was chosen in 2017 to represent RNS at the annual Canadian Accredited Independent Schools Leadership Conference, and has coached youth soccer and hockey

Sophie Visser

Sophie Visser from Waterville, NS, graduated from Central Kings Rural High School with Honours with Distinction and a plan to become a wildlife biologist. Sophie’s considerable experience raising animals on her family’s farm and participating in 4-H Club activities instilled a concern for species at risk worldwide and a desire to pursue a career in habitat and population conservation. A Bachelor of Science in Biology major, her Irving Scholarship will allow Sophie to immerse herself in research related to her primary fields of interest; disease prevention and sustaining a healthy environment. An accomplished track and field athlete who maintained honours with distinction grades throughout her middle and high school years and was her Grade 12 Class Valedictorian, Sophie is also an accredited swimming and water safety instructor who has been a volunteer with the Special Olympics and the Free Spirit Therapeutic Riding Association. Her concern for humans and animals as a teacher and caregiver, has inspired her desire to make positive changes and give back to her community in the broadest possible sense.

More information about the Arthur Irving Family Foundation Scholarships in Environmental Science can be found here. More information about the K.C Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens can be found here.


Dr. David Kristie

Director of Research

K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre

Phone: 902-585-1573

Email: david.kristie@acadiau.ca


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