Best known for his photographs of wildlife, particularly endangered species, Joel Sartore wields his camera in the battle to conserve natural spaces and the habitats they support. Of his 30-plus stories for National Geographic magazine, several have made a mark on the places and animals Sartore covered. A favorite among National Geographic presenters, Sartore’s entertaining presentations blend humor with powerful conservation messages and award-winning photography of wildlife and the places they inhabit.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for his upcoming National Geographic Live student matinee experience. Use the ideas before the show to introduce students to Joel Sartore and the topics (conservation, animals, habitats) that he will discuss during the show. Use the ideas after the show to extend the learning.

Before the Show

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

  • Have students read the conservation encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about conserving resources. After reading, ask: What resources do you interact with in your daily lives? What do you do to conserve them? Invite students to create a classroom conservation checklist with easy things they can do every day at home or in the classroom.    

  • Familiarize students with what qualifies a species as endangered using the provided Endangered Species Categories and Criteria graphic or the endangered species encyclopedic entry.

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend, who the speaker is, and a brief description of what the speaker’s topic(s) will be. 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 speaker 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.

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

After the Show

  • Download and print the provided World Physical MapMaker Kit or use the MapMaker Interactive to explore the areas where Joel Sartore works. 

  • Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and Joel Sartore. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms that 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 Joel Sartore shared. Ask: What role did place play in Joel Sartore’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 Joel Sartore 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 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 Joel Sartore talk about today? In what ways does Joel Sartore 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 speaker’s work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the speaker ask you to make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group? If students elect to help conserve an animal, conduct the Endangered Animals of the Americas activity to help them craft their argument for why their chosen animal is an important species to protect. Modify the activity by using a MapMaker Kit of a different area if the animals students select do not live in the Americas.


all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.


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


organism threatened with extinction.


environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.


pure or unpolluted.


set of terms used in a specialized subject.

threatened species

organism that may soon become endangered.