In the decade leading up to the National Park Service centennial, National Geographic and the National Park Service have collaborated on a BioBlitz in a different national park each year.
A BioBlitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. At a BioBlitz, scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to get an overall count of the plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms that live in a place.
In 2016, to celebrate the centennial, over 250 BioBlitzes are happening across the country and throughout the year.
The cornerstone BioBlitz in the Washington, D.C. region took place May 20-21.
The two-day Biodiversity Festival, held on the National Mall at Constitution Gardens, featured hands-on science exhibits, food and art, as well as family-friendly entertainment and activities.
The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation has participated as an exhibitor at the annual National Geographic/National Park Service BioBlitz for the past several years. This year, the focus of our exhibit was about E.O. Wilson’s grand vision for Half-Earth. Through discussion, interviews, and drawing, children expressed their thoughts about nature, along with their desire to help conserve the planet.
At BioBlitz 2016 in Washington, D.C., the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation asked young participants:
“If you could save half of the Earth for nature, what would you save?”
“It makes me feel like I’m me with no filter, just simple Me!”
– Student Participant
“Nature makes me happy because you discover new things.”
Children who visited the exhibit learned about how the goal of Half-Earth could help save 85% of the species on earth. They were asked to indicate what places they would like to conserve by coloring a world map that depicted protected and special places highlighted in E.O. Wilson’s Half-Earth book. Children drew pictures and wrote notes that were hung on the walls of the booth, creating a collage of conservation messages and colorful animals and scenery.
“I would protect the trees because they give fresh air.”
“I would save the rainforests because they have a lot of species.”
“We can all love the earth, but save it so others can too.”
Photographs by Olivia Merrion