Photography Inspiring Children in Conservation

Learn about the PICC program

Engaging Children in Conservation Issues

The act of creating an image with photography or sketching rewires us to be truly present and see details and beauty on a deeper level of appreciation.

Photography Inspiring Children in Conservation (PICC, 501(c)(3) nonprofit) is a project that was founded in 2016 based upon this concept of truly seeing and engaging with the natural world. In working in collaboration with local communities to celebrate their relationship with their ecosystem and endangered wildlife, we provide a platform to share ecological knowledge, empowering future generations in conservation issues and solutions. (PICC website).

The PICC project focuses on threatened primate species and is designed to engage and inspire students and the broader community through improving knowledge of local ecosystems and learning the skills of photography, illustration and storytelling. The communities are empowered with an appreciation of the ecological, cultural, and economic value to their communities when protecting endemic biodiversity.

Children from the Masoala village of Ambodiforaha sketch white-fronted brown lemurs (Eulemur albifrons) June 26, 2020. (IUCN: Endangered and decreasing). Photo by Pascal Elison.

2020–2022 UPDATE: PICC Team member Pascal Elison and I  collaborated to develop a curriculum to conduct alternative pandemic-sessions of the PICC program in villages on the Masoala peninsula. The children have been so excited and engaged learning about their local lemurs and ecosystems. I appreciate having such skilled and knowledgeable Malagasy partners! (See here for updates.)

PICC is currently being conducted in Madagascar, Panama and Uganda by our outstanding local partners and team members. The students have been learning using activity books, workshops, hikes in the forest, and photography skills. The sessions begin with gathering students, teachers and community leaders in classroom workshops to learn how to make drawings and field notes and use a DSLR camera (when possible). Each student has many days in the forest to experience and enjoy the local biodiversity,and make drawings and journal notes of the plants and animals that pique their interest. Children naturally see the world with unique viewpoints which can teach others to look at the same scene with a new appreciation.

We are excited to include in our workshops and the forest experience local elder leaders with traditional ecological knowledge in order to integrate their local perspective into our project and learn from them through their cultural stories, ancestral practices, and their understanding of their local ecosystem.

When we have the full PICC team onsite, students will work in the classroom with PICC team members, both local community members and international specialists, to develop photography skills, and stories with scientifically accurate illustrations and text. The program staff will assist the students in putting the photographs, illustrations and stories together to demonstrate effective communication methods, skills which can be further developed and used after the program is completed for careers in tourism and conservation.

A village-wide gathering is held at the completion of the program, introducing the community and other students to the photographs, illustrations and stories that the program students have produced. The PICC students are named “Forest Ambassadors” and receive a certificate of completion. These Forest Ambassadors proudly share their images, experiences and knowledge with their parents and community, extending the teaching benefits and in the process developing strong allies for the animals within the community.

Furthering the PICC project’s sustainability, the creative works that the children produce is published in a small book and poster in their local language and English. These will be available to the students and teachers for sharing their local ecological story and the books can be sold to visitors as a source of income for conservation programs and continued environmental education.

In addition, a film about the project is being produced, engaging the audience with the beauty and fascinating behaviors of the animals, highlighting conservation issues and showing the benefits to the community of conservation projects. The film will be available open-source online for expanded international outreach education and awareness, and provided to educators and government officials.

To sustain learning, an internet-connected iPad, scanner / printer and DSLR camera is provided  to teachers and students. The PICC website is being developed to provide a moderated platform to post drawings, creative stories, and access learning resources.

This project is partially supported by a generous grant from the American Society of Primatologists Conservation Committee, 2018, and private individuals. We have gathered an exciting team of multilingual experts in lemur biology, photography, illustration, storytelling, conservation issues, and the Malagasy culture to help to lead the students and teachers through the program.

How can you help? All of our project team members are donating their time and skills to advance primate conservation through this project. However, additional funds are needed for printing, student materials, and logistics in order to successfully accomplish all components of this program. In-kind services and contributions are welcome! To see how you can help, please visit Support Us or contact us at:

PICC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 100% of all donations go to the project and in-country staff.



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