The National Geographic Society recognizes outstanding leaders in the fields of science, exploration, education, and storytelling with a number of select awards.

Hubbard Medal

The Hubbard Medal, National Geographic’s highest honor, recognizes individuals for the highest distinction in exploration, scientific research, and discovery. The award most often celebrates years of ground-breaking achievements in a particular field or discipline. This prestigious award was first presented to explorer Robert E. Peary in 1906 by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, and it exemplifies our passionate belief in the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to change the world. Other distinguished awardees have included astronaut John Glenn, marine archaeologist Bob Ballard, primatologist Jane Goodall, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and conservation biologist Tom Lovejoy.
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia A. Earle and Rosemary and Roger Enrico Chair for Ocean Exploration. 

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Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year

The Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year award is given to an individual whose actions, achievements, and spirit push the boundaries of leadership in exploration, and who shows a commitment to share this knowledge with the world. It recognizes a member of the National Geographic Explorer community who shines a critical light on important issues, discoveries, and challenges facing our planet, and inspires the world to act on behalf of a more sustainable future.

National Geographic/Buffett Awards for Leadership in Conservation

The National Geographic/Buffett Awards for Leadership in Conservation were established in partnership with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to recognize and celebrate unsung conservation heroes who are working in the field. Two awards are presented each year: one for achievement in Africa and the other for achievement in Latin America. These outstanding individuals have demonstrated leadership in managing and protecting the natural resources in their regions and countries, and are inspirational conservation advocates who serve as role models and mentors.

Eliza Scidmore Award

The Eliza Scidmore Award for Outstanding Storytelling recognizes individuals who use immersive storytelling to make complex ideas, issues, and information relevant and accessible. The award is named for writer and photographer Eliza Scidmore who, in 1892, was the first woman elected to the National Geographic board.

Planetary Leadership Award

The Planetary Leadership Award honors world leaders who have successfully established globally significant protected areas, such as national parks, wilderness areas, or marine reserves, that are shielded from exploitation. The bold actions of informed and inspired global leaders are vital to building a better future for our planet. Previous winners of the Planetary Leadership Award include Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, and former Presidents of the Seychelles Danny Faure and James Michel.

Photo credits (from top of page): Michael Melford, Rebecca Hale, Sam Kittner (2), Leigh Vogel, Taylor Mickal

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