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, gaining 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.

2020–2021 UPDATE: PICC Team member Pascal Elison and I have collaborated to develop a curriculum to conduct alternative pandemic-sessions of the PICC program in the Ambodiforaha village, 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.)

Critically endangered red-ruffed lemur, drawing by Ambodiforaha PICC 2020 student.

PICC will be conducted in Masoala National Park, Madagascar, as soon as the borders are open to international travel. The students will learn using activity books, workshops and field photography. The sessions begin with gathering students, teachers and community leaders in classroom workshops to learn how to use a DSLR camera and make drawings and field notes. Each student will have a full day in the forest to experience and enjoy the local biodiversity, capture their own photos, 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.

Students will work in the classroom with PICC team members to develop 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 will be 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 will be named “Forest Ambassadors” and receive a certificate of completion. These Forest Ambassadors can 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 will be published in a small book and poster in Malagasy, French 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.

PICC piloted this project in Suriname in October 2018. See our PICC website for images of students participating and images that they captured during the program.

In addition, a film about the project will be 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 Malagasy educators and government officials.

To sustain learning, an internet-connected iPad, scanner / printer and DSLR camera will be housed in a central location for access to teachers and students. The PICC website will 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 lemur 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 Malagasy staff.


Conservation Coloring and Activity Books

Custom-tailored conservation coloring and activity books are an effective method to engage and inform children and adults in topics of local biodiversity, ecosystems, and conservation issues and solutions. I have been designing science education coloring books for over 17 years and am excited about the potential for sharing this tool with as many primate habitat communities as I can reach. Contact me if you would like to have a custom book designed for children in your community!

The first book in my primate conservation coloring book series was written and illustrated for the southeastern habitats of Madagascar, co-authored with lemur biologist Dr. Amber Walker-Bolton, University of Toronto, Scarborough, and published in English and Malagasy. The illustrations (by Kathy West), activities and text provide information on lemur behavior, biology and natural history, and present conservation issues and solutions. Dr. Walker-Bolton has provided a copy of the book to teachers and students in Madagascar in 2018 and Kenya in 2019, with great excitement from the classes, especially on owning their very own book, a first for many of the children (see photos below). Download a free copy of the Berenty edition (2019) RBC Lemur Conservation Colouring and Activity Book.

Just published is a new edition for the PICC project in Masoala National Park, NE Madagascar. It was co-authored by Kathy West and Pascal Elison, translated to the local Malagasy dialect, and customized for the local ecosystems, communities and conservation solutions. Cover art was done by Ambodiforaha students from their PICC session in June 2020. Download a copy here!


Please feel free to download both editions of the coloring book and share with children in your life – we are providing the books open-source so that more students can learn about conservation issues facing the lemurs. If you would like to have hard copies they are available at-cost directly from Corporate Color Printing ( Glossy cover, perforated pages for easy removal, English & Malagasy.  Email request to:, or write me with questions!

Malagasy children receive their lemur conservation books, 2018
Teachers planned lessons around the lemur conservation books, 2018