Open Educational Resource
Open Educational Resource



Be a Voice for Species: How to Write a Call to Action

Be a Voice for Species: How to Write a Call to Action

Use this tool to develop a story that encourages others to protect wildlife.


4 - 12


Biology, Conservation, Ecology, English Language Arts, Geography, Storytelling

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Photographs by
Photo Ark

Use this guide to develop a compelling call to action to protect an at-risk species. Be creative: You can use these steps to craft a written, graphic, audio, or video story. And at each step, incorporate your own ideas and perspective to be a unique voice for the species you care about.

1. Be curious. Begin by exploring species that are threatened with extinction. How? Start with the Photo Ark. You can learn more about at-risk species and what’s putting them at risk online, in books, and at National Geographic. Be sure to investigate which species in your local community need support. Local knowledge is an important resource. Interview community members to learn about at-risk species.

2. Focus. Decide which at-risk species you want to tell a story about. Choose one you care about and you think other people should care about, too.

3. Learn. Now you need to be an explorer and find answers to the following questions:

  • What are the basic characteristics of the species you chose? Where does it live? What habitat does it need? What does it eat? What eats it? How does it live? Why is it interesting?
  • Why is this species important to people, places, and cultures? What role does this species play in the ecosystem (predator, prey, decomposer, etc.)? What would likely happen if it went extinct?
  • What threats does this species face (habitat loss, climate change, pollution, etc.)? Are these threats directly or indirectly caused by human activities? If so, how? How do these threats affect the species?
  • What would protect this species from extinction? Research what is being done or could be done to reduce the threats to the species. Discover as many possible solutions as you can.

4. Problem-solve. What action do you think people should take to protect this species? Review possible solutions and consider them in regard to your audience.

  • What type of action is most achievable for people?
  • What type of action would have the most beneficial impact on the species—and why?
  • Which action can you commit to and ask the same of other people?

5. Compose your story. Decide how you will present the problem and pitch your call to action. Gather images, videos, data, and sources you can use to convince people that action is needed. Decide how you will share the following big ideas:

  • Start with something interesting about the species to build curiosity and empathy.
  • Show the biggest threats facing the species and the impact of those threats.
  • Explain why the species is important culturally and ecologically and what will happen if it goes extinct.
  • Present your call to action and how it will help.
  • Invite your audience to take action!

6. Collaborate. Share a draft of your story with trusted community members. Ask for feedback and use it to improve your presentation and call to action.

7. Empower yourself and others. Take your story online, into the community, or on the road!

  • Pay close attention to how your story is received and refine it as needed.
  • When you have achieved some success, decide how you will include the impact you’ve had in your story.
Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Corinne Rucker, National Geographic Society
Sara Nachtigal, Ph.D., Educurious
Hanna Jaramillo, M.S. Ed., Educurious
Latia White, Ed.D., Inclusive Innovation Researcher, Global Inclusive Learning Design Reviewer
Rights Clearance
Jean Cantu, National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Patrick Cavanagh, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Last Updated

July 16, 2024

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