National Geographic
Photo Ark Challenge

Mission 1: Tell a Conservation Story

Picture of student with iPhone and GoPro

Photograph by Winn Brewer

Create a portfolio that combines photography and writing to inspire others about animal conservation.

  1. Photograph - take photos of at least three animals you care about
  2. Write - write a story about each animal you photographed
  3. Share - combine your photos and writing in an album to show your family, friends, and local community

Mission Tips

Take your conservation story further:

  • Add species background information. What habitats do the species live in? Are the species under threat? Why should people care about them?
  • Choose a theme for your portfolio and photograph animals that match it! For example: swimmers, mammals, nocturnal dwellers, desert species, invasive species, cold-blooded creatures, species in my park, or carnivores.
  • Include threatened or endangered species in your portfolio. Find out about species in your community or visit a local zoo or animal refuge.
  • Try various styles of writing—such as expository, narrative, poetry, or lyrics—to tell the story.

For Educators

  • Integrate the Photo Ark Challenge into your classroom by choosing a theme for the students’ portfolios that aligns with your curriculum goals. For example, a 7th-grade class learning about ecology in science and Shakespeare in English could “tell the story” of a food web in iambic pentameter and have photos of the key species in the web.
  • Help students include endangered species in their portfolios by finding species in your local community that may be endangered or arranging a visit to a local zoo or animal refuge.
  • Have students focus on and practice a particular type of writing or have them try multiple styles to “tell the story.” Examples include expository, narrative, descriptive writing, poetry, lyrics, first person, etc. Students can pair up and discuss which audience they are trying to reach and which writing style might be a more effective way to communicate the story.
  • Emphasize the connection between science and the arts. Pair with an educator from another subject and do a multidisciplinary project. Example: students can research species in their science class and then take photos in their art class.
  • Check out the activity Power of Images in Storytelling to help students explore the role of photographs in storytelling.

Send In Your Work

Before submitting, make sure you have the following ready:

  • A short summary of which Conservation Mission(s) you completed.
  • Photos, writings, presentations, and other documentation showcasing your mission solution(s) compiled into one file like a PowerPoint, video, or Word document.
  • Completed release forms (see the Challenge FAQ) if your videos and/or photos feature your or others' faces.
  • If you are submitting a video, make sure it follows the guidelines (see the Challenge FAQ) and is already uploaded to YouTube so you can share the link.

Students younger than 13 (as of December 31st, 2016) need a parent or teacher to submit on their behalf.

Other Missions

Mission 2: Advocate for Conservation

Mission 2: Advocate for Conservation  

Become a champion for conservation by advocating for an endangered animal or habitat.

Mission 3: Create a Conservation Plan

Mission 3: Create a Conservation Plan  

Come up with a plan to protect an animal you are passionate about and share it with the world.