Ronan Donovan was a biologist before he became a wildlife photographer and filmmaker. He has worked in the canopies of Uganda documenting wild chimpanzees, rarely seen regions of Yellowstone National Park filming wolves, and Rwanda documenting mountain gorillas. Through his stories, students will learn more about human-wildlife interactions around the world.

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 Ronan Donovan and the topics (wildlife, ecosystems, photography, conservation, geography) 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 Ronan Donovan’s biography.

  • Use MapMaker Interactive to explore the species range of the gray wolf and the areas where Ronan has worked. 

  • Have students read the conservation encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about different kinds of conservation techniques. After reading, ask: How are different types of conservation connected to one another? Can conservation have positive and negative consequences for different stakeholders? 

  • Watch the Wolves of Yellowstone and Leader of the Pack video to familiarize students with the effect of removing the gray wolf from Yellowstone National Park, and how reintroducing the species to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem changed things again. Ask students to take notes while they watch the film. Instruct them to note the impacts removing the wolves had in one list then what happened when the species was reintroduced in another. Finally, have them write a paragraph comparing the two lists.

  • Use the article Wolves and People to help students understand the natural history of wolves in North America and how they have interacted with humans in recent history. 

  • Ronan’s work captures perceived similarities between the behavior of animals and humans. Have students explore his work on his website, as well as the article “Growing Up Wolf” and this excerpt from The Hidden Life of Wolves on Wolf Language. Ask: What are some similarities between humans and wolves? What is one new thing you learned about wolf packs? What is one thing you’d like to research and learn more about?

  • Have students that want to learn even more about wolves? Check out these additional articles: Mexican Gray Wolf, Photo Ark: Mexican Gray Wolf, and Photo Ark: Red Wolf

  • 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 Ronan Donovan. 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 Ronan Donovan shared. Ask: What role did place play in Ronan Donovan’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 Ronan Donovan 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 Ronan Donovan talk about today? In what ways does Ronan Donovan 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 Ronan Donovan's 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?


scientist who studies living organisms.


one of the top layers of a forest, formed by the thick leaves of very tall trees.


large, intelligent ape native to Africa.


to transmit, transport, or carry.


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


to show how something is done.


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


to give authority or power.


to carry out plans.


to understand, especially by viewing.


lasting, stubborn, or tenacious.


person or organization that has an interest or investment in a place, situation, or company.


set of terms used in a specialized subject.


organisms living in a natural environment.

Yellowstone National Park

large national park in the U.S. states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.