Conservation photographer, Carlton Ward is passionate about the varied landscapes and wildlife of Florida. As an eighth-generation Floridian, he felt the state’s wild side was relatively unknown. Carlton started the Florida Wildlife Corridor project in 2010 to help connect the state’s protected areas and allow animals to move from one to the other, in particular, the Florida panther.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for his upcoming National Geographic Live! student matinee experience. Use the “Before the show” ideas to introduce students to Carlton Ward and the topics (photography, conservation, ecosystem, wildlife) that he will discuss during the show. Use the “After the show” ideas to extend the learning after the event has ended.

Before the Show:

  • Have students review Carlton Ward’s biography using the links in the Explore More tab on this page.

  • Download and print the provided maps of Florida (tabletop), or use the MapMaker Interactive, to explore the area where Carlton Ward works.

  • Have students read the Keystone Species encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about keystone species and other classifications of animals that make up an ecosystem. After reading, ask: What is a keystone species? What is an example of a keystone species? What did you read that surprised you? What do you want to learn more about?
  • Learn more about the Florida Panther with this article. Have your class write down two questions each to ask Carlton about the Florida panther. 
  • As a class, watch the film Master Trackers (2:31) to learn more about how a photographer such as Carlton sets camera traps to catch elusive big cats.

  • Use the Animal Navigation (1 hour, 30 minutes) activity to help students develop an understanding of different navigation methods of migratory animals.

  • Need more resources on storytelling and photography? Check out this collection!

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend and, who the speaker is, and offer a brief description of the speaker’s topic(s). Have students fill out the What I Know and What I Want to Know columns of the KWL Chart. Have them fill out the What I Learned column after the show.

  • Use the Graphic Organizer Collection to select a graphic organizer to help your students organize their questions and new knowledge before, during, and after the program. For example: 

    • Download and print the T Chart. Have students label the left column with Questions I Have and the right column with Answers, and then conduct research about the speaker and their topic ahead of the program. Have students record answers to their questions during or after the program. Have students conduct research to complete any unanswered questions for homework. Have each student share a question and answer with the class. 

    • Download and print the provided Five Ws Chart. Have each student bring their copy to the matinee program and take notes. Have students share and discuss their notes after the show.

 After the Show:

  • Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and Carlton Ward. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which they are unfamiliar with. After the presentation, have students share the notes that they took during the show. Have a class discussion about attitudes and skills and how students demonstrate them in their everyday lives. Have students record their personal examples on the worksheet.

  • Review the continents, countries, or areas that the speaker presented. Ask: What continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that Carlton Ward shared. Ask: What role did place play in Carlton Ward’s story? Why was location important to the story? How did the characteristics of the place influence the story? Note: You may need to introduce the concept of place for your students before they can answer and discuss these questions. 

  • Discuss and define any unfamiliar terminology that the speaker used. Ask: What vocabulary words did Carlton Ward use that were new to you? Invite volunteers to write the words on the board, and have the class define them as a group using the information they learned from the speaker or through research. If desired, have students record unfamiliar terminology during the show on one-half of a T Chart. Then, have them write the definitions on the other side following this class discussion.

  • Have a class discussion about the attitudes National Geographic explorers embody. Ask: What attitudes did Carlton Ward talk about today? In what ways does Carlton Ward demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in his work? Why do you think these attitudes are important for explorers? Students can use their Five Ws Chart for reference and a Graphic Organizer to organize their ideas.

  • Have a whole-class brainstorm on how students can make changes or support the speakers’ work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the speakers make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group?


story of a person's life.

camera trap

remote-activated camera that relies on changes in light or motion to automatically take a photo.


particular feature of an organism.




to transmit, transport, or carry.


link or relationship.


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


one of the seven main land masses on Earth.


geographic territory with a distinct name, flag, population, boundaries, and government.


desire to know more about a subject.


to show how something is done.


community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.


difficult to capture.


to give authority or power.


book, set of books, or set of articles offering introductory or comprehensive information on a branch of knowledge or a particular subject.


person who studies unknown areas.


to carry out plans.


force that effects the actions, behavior, or policies of others.


organism that has a major influence on the way its ecosystem works.


the geographic features of a region.


organisms that travel from one place to another at predictable times of the year.


art and science of determining an object's position, course, and distance traveled.


to coordinate and give structure to.


large wild cat native to the Americas. Also called mountain lion and puma.


lasting, stubborn, or tenacious.


source of information or direction.


scientific observations and investigation into a subject, usually following the scientific method: observation, hypothesis, prediction, experimentation, analysis, and conclusion.


being accountable and reliable for an action or situation.


set of terms used in a specialized subject.


organisms living in a natural environment.