50 mins
Composite image of Earth created from the VIIRS instrument on one of NASA's Earth-observing satellites.

Students explore the varying roles people can play as conservationists operating within local and global communities to save endangered species. They research an eco-artist and identify ways they bring awareness and inspire action toward saving our planet. Then, students create a social media profile sharing information about the artist they learned about.


Engaging In The Fight Against Extinction Unit Driving Question: How can we, as planetary stewards, take an active role in saving species from extinction?

Slowing Extinction Lesson Driving QuestionHow can we inspire others to protect natural habitats and save endangered species from extinction?

1. Introduce students to the influence that visual artists can have in conservation efforts through video and discussion.

  • Play the video on Joel Sartore’s project, The Photo Ark (2:56), for the class.
  • After watching the video, conduct a class discussion by asking students:
      • How has Joel Sartore inspired action?
      • How does he make others care about endangered species and their contributions to species' extinction?
      • How can we use Sartore’s work as a model of how to advocate and fight for endangered species? 

2. Guide students through the investigation of an eco-artist and the development of a social media profile to highlight their values and work.

  • Distribute copies of the Eco-Artist Social Media Profile handout to each student.
  • Have students choose one eco-artist from the handout, read about their work, and look at examples of their art to identify how their art brings awareness or inspires action.
  • Instruct students to develop a Twitter-inspired social media profile that provides an image of their chosen eco-artist, their name, an imaginary handle (i.e., @JoelsArkNGS), a description of who they are, and write three to five mock tweets that illustrate what they believe in. Have students use the Eco-Artist Social Media Profile handout for full directions and guidance.
  • After students are finished, hang the completed profiles around the room and allow students to participate in a gallery walk, during which they will leave a “comment” on the artists’ tweets using sticky notes.
  • Debrief the activity with a class discussion. Ask students to use their focal eco-artists to inform their responses:
      • How have eco-artists inspired action?
      • How do eco-artists inspire others to care about endangered species and their contributions to species' extinction?
      • How can we use eco-artists as an example of how to advocate and fight for endangered species?

Informal Assessment

Eco-Artist Social Media Profile: During the gallery walk, check on students’ understanding of how the artist represents their beliefs and hopes for inspiring action.

1 hr 40 mins
<p>Image of a poster from the climate strike in Mumbai, India.</p>

Student teams complete and share their action-oriented conservation projects that serve to preserve one of Earth’s most endangered species. After presenting, teams work together to spread the word on campus about their advocacy efforts and to create a gallery of hopeful planetary stewardship.


Engaging In The Fight Against Extinction Unit Driving Question: How can we, as planetary stewards, take an active role in saving species from extinction?

Slowing Extinction Lesson Driving QuestionHow can we inspire others to protect natural habitats and save endangered species from extinction?

1. Prepare student teams to design mockups of their trifold conservation pamphlets based on clear artistic and action-driven objectives.
  • Distribute the Focal Species Pamphlet Design Template and the Focal Species Pamphlet: Checklist and Rubric handouts to students.
  • As a class, discuss the objectives of the project. The first objective is for students to make their readers care. The second objective to inspire their readers to take action now.
  • Review the requirements for the final pamphlet that are listed on the Focal Species Pamphlet Design Template handout. Student pamphlets should include:
      • At least one image of their focal species
      • Data and/or graphics inspired by and developed from previous activities in this unit
      • Three to four concrete steps that any individual can readily take to help save this animal from extinction
      • Information about at least three organizations that support the survival of the endangered focal species, including the name and contact information for the organizations
      • Citation for all images, data, quotes, and information taken from a source


2. Have teams brainstorm conservation pamphlet mockup ideas for each required portion of the pamphlet.

  • Once the rough draft is complete, provide feedback to students as well as have another team provide feedback to the group using the rubric for guidance.
  • Instruct teams to divide the final trifold pamphlet responsibilities among team members.

3. Provide time for student teams to complete work on the final published trifold pamphlets.

4. Have student teams present their final projects and presentations to the class.
  • Provide access to a document camera so the audience can easily see individual elements of the pamphlet.
  • Have students summarize the main points of their pamphlet and their favorite elements of the document.

5. Engage students in a reflection of their learning through the unit.
  • Distribute the Focal Species Pamphlet Reflection handout to each student and have them complete the reflection.
  • Have students self assess using the Focal Species Pamphlet: Checklist and Rubric.

6.     Facilitate a class discussion to determine ways to spread the word to the community beyond the classroom.
  • Have student volunteers share their responses to the third reflection question: What are some next steps I can take to spread the message of this project beyond my classroom?
  • As a class, revisit the chart paper from The Impacts of the Anthropocene Epoch activity that had student responses to the following questions posted on sticky notes:
      • What do you want Earth to look like in the future? To what parts of our planet do we need to be paying attention?
      • What changes do you think humans will need to make in order to have that future?
  • Students create one last sticky note that they add to the chart pledging to take action that will help achieve their goals for the future of the planet.
  • Students create a plan for displaying their trifolds in their school community.


Focal Species Pamphlet: Project Checklist and Rubric: Students evaluate their own work against the rubric, and the teacher uses it to assess final work.

Extending the Learning

  • As a class, devise a cohesive, multi-step “Spread the Word!” campaign that includes classroom visits and a Planetary Stewardship Gallery. Class visits offer teams the chance to explain their advocacy efforts, answer questions, and recruit activists to their cause. The creation of a Planetary Stewardship Gallery, designed by all teams, provides a hub where all projects are placed on display to raise awareness, elicit emotional responses, and inspire citizen action across the student body.
  • Have student teams carry out their conservation action plans within their own community, educating and engaging with other local actors, dividing responsibilities, urging action on behalf of a vulnerable regional species with the help of knowledgeable and influential sponsors such as zoos, aquariums, and nonprofits.
  • Have students transform trifolds into a public service announcement and publish short promotional videos that include their trifold work.
  • Have students identify an environmental activist or influencer who is connected to preserving endangered species within their animal’s ecosystem. Teams send copies of their completed trifold to them along with a short letter of intent.

Subjects & Disciplines


Students will:

  • Create social media profiles to showcase the goals and tools of eco-activists.
  • Create a trifold conservation pamphlet to educate others about endangered species and their biomes.
  • Explore ways eco-activists use art to raise awareness of environmental issues.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning
  • Multimedia instruction
  • Reflection

Skills Summary

This lesson targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7: Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on Grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly. WHST.6-8.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.The College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards D2.Civ.10.6-8: Explain the relevance of personal interests and perspectives, civic virtues, and democratic principles when people address issues and problems in government and civil society. D4.7.6-8.: Assess their individual and collective capacities to take action to address local, regional, and global problems, taking into account a range of possible levers of power, strategies, and potential outcomes.

What You’ll Need

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Internet access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per learner, 1 computer per pair, Color printer, Monitor/screen, Printer, Projector, Word processing software

Physical Space

  • Classroom
  • Media Center/Library


  • None


  • Heterogeneous grouping
  • Homogeneous grouping
  • Large-group instruction
  • Large-group learning
  • Small-group work

Accessibility Notes

  • None

Background Information

It is common practice for visual and literary artists to use their medium as a platform for activism. One type of activist art is environmental art. Poetry, painting, performance, photography, murals, graffiti, music, sculpture, upcycling, and many other art forms have frequently been employed as artists advocate for improving the environment. As planetary stewards, it is our responsibility to ensure stakeholders are well informed about how global changes will inevitably impact the quality of life or even the existence of life on the planet. Planetary stewardship requires nothing less than intense engagement and a willingness to take and advocate for immediate action. 

Prior Knowledge

  • None



member of a country, state, or town who shares responsibilities for the area and benefits from being a member.


management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.


branch of biology that studies the relationship between living organisms and their environment.


organism threatened with extinction.

public policy

course of actions, beliefs, and laws taken by a government having to do with a specific issue or concern.


responsible management to ensure benefits are passed on to future generations.

For Further Exploration

Instructional Content