2021 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research Winner – Robin C. Moore

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to announce the 2021 recipient of its annual Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research.  This award is given annually in recognition of a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play.

Robin C. Moore

Director, Natural Learning Initiative, NC State University

Robin C. Moore is an urban designer and design researcher, specializing in child and family urban environments that support healthy human development, informal play, and non-formal education. He is professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning and director of the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University.

Moore is author of numerous articles and several books, including Childhood’s Domain, Natural Learning, The Life History of an Environmental Schoolyard, and Plants for Play.  He has been recognized internationally for his contributions to the field of design, especially that of outdoor play facilities for children and families. Most recently, Moore received the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by NC State and the university’s Board of Trustees.

Robin Moore was nominated and ultimately selected for “his relentless efforts to promote design and research as driving forces for enhancing children’s environments by creating diverse opportunities of nature play and learning.”

Upon learning he had won this year’s award, Robin said, “What an incredible, wonderful surprise! Such an honor in Joe’s name and to be joining the company of Olga, Lynn, and Stuart. And the first designer so recognized, to boot—nice icing!”

His many nominations are a testament to Robin as a practitioner, educator, mentor and colleague:

“… his enthusiasm and energy to learn new things and share his knowledge with everyone involved and his passion to work tirelessly every day to transform mundane child environments into engaging and playful places to promote play, learning, health, and wellbeing.”

“… [his] international authority and excellent leadership in research and outreach for naturalizing children’s environments…inspiring ideas about how our common research goals could make the world a better place for children.”

“His innovative concepts have been implemented and embraced by parks and recreation professionals, landscape architects, and educators across the world.”

“What a gift he has been to the industry and countless numbers of children, families and communities that have been positively impacted by his collective body of work and research.”


Founded in 2009, the U.S. Play Coalition is an international network of individuals and organizations that promote the value of play throughout life. The coalition is housed in Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department, part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.  Our membership comes from a cross-section of industries and professions – play researchers, educators, park and recreation professionals, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians, parents and more.  Learn more at usplaycoalition.org