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Special Collection

Earth Day

Join National Geographic this Earth Day as we work together to save our planet's endangered species.

PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded or is otherwise provided at no charge for use for coverage or promotion of National Geographic Photo Ark and Earth Day. Copying, distribution, archiving, sublicensing, sale, or resale of the image is prohibited.  Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic

Photograph by Joel Sartore, Photo Ark


In 1970, as decades of environmental disasters rocked the United States—an offshore oil rig blanketed California beaches with millions of gallons of spilled oil, pesticides devastated insect and bird populations, Ohio’s Cuyahoga River burst into flames—Earth Day founder Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson decided to take action. He wanted to educate the public about the environment. Nelson recruited a team that rallied approximately 20 million people across the U.S. to attend events and gatherings and participate in teach-ins and protests against continued deterioration of the environment. The first Earth Day inspired the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the passage of key environmental legislation such as the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

National Geographic uses the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world, and is focusing on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day (April 22nd, 2020) to add its voice to the worldwide call for a healthy, sustainable environment for all. What will you do this year to make every day Earth Day?

During the month of April, meet explorers working on conservation and species preservation through our Explorer Classroom digital events.


Watch National Geographic Explorers take on wildlife conservation in these select videos.

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Learn more about ecosystems and their species with these inforgaphics.


Use these reference articles to help your students learn more about species, conservation, and extinction.

Keep Exploring

Can’t get enough? Keep exploring with these collections for even more classroom materials!