Our mission programs drive global impact.

Science and exploration are our foundation — storytelling and education are our superpowers.

We are a global non-profit that funds the best and brightest individuals around the world dedicated to our mission to use the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.


Our Explorers are advancing new knowledge and leading conservation programs with outsized impact to protect nature, wildlife, and historical places. They’re documenting the wonder of our world—including its beauty, mystery, and the threats it faces—and inspiring people to care and act on behalf of our planet and its people.

Erina Molina with a local fisherman points out to the fishing area. Photo by Glenn Barit
National Geographic Society Programs

Explorer-Led Programs

We invest in and scale a small number of signature, Explorer-led programs that can have outsize impact by combining the core elements of our vision: they leverage rigorous science and exploration while combining storytelling and education throughout the fabric of their efforts. These rigorous, multi-year initiatives are catalyzing lasting change across our five focus areas of Ocean, Land, Wildlife, Human Histories and Cultures, Planetary Health, and Space.

Featured Explorer-Led Program

Pristine Seas

Spending weeks at sea, diving thousands of hours, and seeking out some of the least explored and understood places in the ocean, National Geographic Explorer in Residence Enric Sala and a team of determined scientists and filmmakers work to inspire the creation of protected areas where marine life can thrive—while ensuring effective management for years to come.


National Geographic Explorer and renowned photographer Anand Varma to create WonderLab where he will develop innovative photography and videography techniques that push the boundaries of how we understand the wonders of our world.

Perpetual Planet

National Geographic and Rolex have partnered to support trailblazing scientific research, expeditions, and solutions to increase our understanding of the threats facing the planet’s life support systems and drive action to address them.

Okavango Wilderness Project

In the heart of southern Africa, the Kalahari Desert gives way to one of the world's largest wetlands as seasonal rains from Angola's highlands flood northern Botswana's Okavango Delta each year.


Photo Ark

Photo Ark uses the power of photography to inspire people to help protect species at risk before it’s too late.


Out of Eden Walk

Paul Salopek is walking the pathways of the first humans who migrated out of Africa in the Stone Age and made the Earth ours.

Exploring the Northwestern Glacier on board the National Geographic Orion in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, USA

World Freshwater Initiative

Understanding freshwater is critical for life on Earth and is an integral part of the National Geographic Society’s mission. Learn how our Explorers are preserving the world’s freshwater resources.

Archaeologist and biological anthropologist Keneiloe Molopyane. Molopyane is the first South African black woman to hold the title of principal investigator for Gladysvale cave, a palaeoanthropological site at the Greater Cradle Nature Reserve in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. As part of the core team of the Centre of the Exploration of the Deep Human Journey, Molopyane is currently the lead excavator of the Dragon’s Back expedition, at the Rising Star cave system. Photo by Mathabela Tsikoane

Rising Star

With support from Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the National Geographic Society, Explorer in Residence Lee Berger and his team have yielded incredible discoveries in the Rising Star cave system.


Africa Refocused

In a collaboration between Nature, Environment, and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) and the National Geographic Society, Africa Refocused is refocusing the narrative of Africa by focusing on stories told by native Africans.

National Geographic Society Programs

Youth Programs

At the National Geographic Society, our mission is to use the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to protect and illuminate the wonder of our world. Ranging from Internships to Virtual Externships, online education resources, National Geographic Photo Camp, and more, we provide students with immersive and virtual learning experience, inspiring the next generation of Explorers, leaders, and solution seekers.

Featured Youth Program


The Slingshot Challenge is about sharing your ideas for slingshotting our planet forward. We’re challenging 13-18 year olds to create a one-minute video with your solution to our current environmental problems.
National Geographic Society Young Explorers

Young Explorer Program

The National Geographic Society’s Young Explorer Program recognizes and invests in inspirational 18-25 year old changemakers who have demonstrated exceptional courage, leadership, and a commitment to making a positive impact in their communities and beyond. Each year, the Society selects 15 emerging leaders who represent the Society’s key focus areas to become members of the Young Explorers Program.

Student Travel

High school students can get out into the field and explore through the lens of an On Assignment project, including photography, climate & geology, technology, or wildlife conservation.

Photo Camp

Photo Camp’s mission is to amplify the voices of young people by giving them a platform to share their stories and those of their communities, and showing them that their stories matter and can make a difference.

Virtual Externship

In this remote Externship, externs aged 18-25 will translate global freshwater conservation issues into a local context, make them relevant and accessible to their communities, and offer solutions to local or regional problems.

Explorer Classroom

Join Explorer Classroom — a live interactive session that connects young people aged 4-14 with National Geographic Explorers — to hear behind-the-scenes stories and interact with cutting-edge scientists, researchers, and powerful storytellers from around the globe.

Join Us

Donate Today

Your generous contribution will help fund National Geographic Society mission programs and Explorers working to save wildlife, protect our oceans and ecosystems, preserve our ancient heritage, and solve the planet’s mysteries and challenges.

Photo Credits from top of page: Cory Richards, Glenn Barit, Charlie Hamilton James, Manu San Felix, Michael Melford, Joel Sartore, Steve Boyes, Esther Ruth Mbabazi, Lynsey Addario, Charlie Hamilton James, Bailey Edelstein, Angela Nankabirwa, Mark Thiessen, Michael Scholl

Get updates about our critical work to explore and protect our planet.

The National Geographic Society is proud to invest in a global community of intrepid Explorers working to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Make a tax-deductible gift to support the Society today, and your support will help fund the next generation of changemakers.