iSaveSpecies: Conserving Endangered Species One Zoo Visitor at a Time

By: Olivia Bauer

Lynne Myers and the Project Dragonfly team are using a second National Science Foundation grant to address rising extinction rates with their iSaveSpecies initiative. This project uses interactive kiosks at nine zoos around the nation to encourage public engagement in conservation efforts. Lynne Myers and her team believe that zoos are a learning place for conservation, especially when they provide the visitors tools to do so, and they are striving to encourage visitors to move from passive spectators to active investigators.

Worldwide, approximately 16,928 species are currently identified as being threatened with extinction. Conserving endangered species is vital to human existence because biodiversity helps maintain ecosystem services like maintaining clean water and air, as well as fertile soil for growing crops. Project Dragonfly’s project stemmed from Lynne Myers’s position as a founding editor for Dragonfly Magazine, a publication that offered a platform for children to conduct their own scientific investigations and share their findings. Project Dragonfly’s first project, Wild Research, was conducted at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical garden and offered ten touch-screen kiosks for visitors to make predictions about research questions, collect data, and share their results.

iSaveSpecies expands Wild Research’s goals and encourages family engagement through conservation poster kiosks that are wide enough for groups to simultaneously interact with. Visitors have multiple image, text, and sound options to choose from while creating their posters. Project Dragonfly has found that the interactive stations are resulting in more conversations about preservation. Additionally, they found that allowing the public to create knowledge, rather than simply receiving it, is an effective way to cause change. Lynne Myers believes “anyone can be a scientist, and anyone can be an investigator” when it comes to learning about and promoting conservation.

GreenHawks Media

GreenHawks Media is Miami University’s first environmental publication. Our goal is to unite green initiatives on campus and in the community. We hope to make a difference in a journalistic fashion by spreading news and information as well as educating our readers. We would like to present GreenHawks Media as a central place for groups and individuals to share their ideas, concerns, and initiatives. Individually and in small groups, efforts are made to make a difference and promote change. While one person may have a concern, another is researching it and needs assistance. While one initiative is being made in a science department, a similar idea is being discussed in a local business. GreenHawks Media provides the opportunity for shared visions to come together. We are journalists, writers, photographers, and scientists. We are students. We are motivated to use media to contribute to the change that our generation needs to make in order to protect and understand the planet we call home.

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