Conservation in Action

Activity Source: 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Adapted with permission.

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” --Rachel Carson, 1954

The second full week of October is not only Earth Science Week—it is also National Wildlife Refuge Week! During this time, you are encouraged to consider the legacy of Rachel Carson, an early leader in the environmental conservation movement, and the resource management activities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

The following activity is aligned with the National Science Education Standards and offers cross-curricular opportunities to integrate science and English. You may want to set aside some extra time for reading and research. You may also want to visit a  national fish hatchery or national wildlife refuge to make the most of this learning opportunity.


  • Conservation in Action: Guarding Our Wildlife Resources Brochure and Rachel Carson Fact Sheet (find at
  • Computer with presentation program (such as PowerPoint)
  • Poster-making materials
  • Video camera (optional)
  • Web site creation software (optional)


  1. Discuss with others in your class:

    • What is environmental protection? How important is it to you?
    • What experiences have you had in the outdoors, such as hiking, fishing and camping?
    • How would you describe the state of our environment? Is it not protected enough from pollution or too protected? What is your evidence?
    • Why is  protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat  important? Which species and ecosystems need the most protection?
    • Are there any endangered species in your area? If so, what are they, and how are they protected?
  1. Read the Rachel Carson Fact Sheet and maybe do your own research. Then work with a group of classmates to create a poster, write a skit, or make a presentation (possibly using PowerPoint or a similar program) about Rachel Carson. Consider:

    • Who was Carson? What do we know about her childhood, education, career, and achievements?
    • What is Carson’s most famous work? What was it about?
    • Why is Carson an important figure in the conservation world? What has she done to set the stage for future conservation?
    • What does the Carson quotation at the top of this page mean to you? How does this quote relate to wildlife conservation?
  1. Work with your teacher to schedule a time for each group to present or put on its skit (consider videotaping your skit, if that was your group’s choice). If possible, create a whole-class website highlighting the work of Carson and featuring your class posters, presentations, and videos.

Extension Activity: Read the Conservation in Action Brochure. Through the brochure and your own research, compare the work of the FWS then and now. Discuss:

  • When was FWS established? For what purpose?
  • What is the Migratory Bird Treaty Act? Why is it necessary?
  • What is the current status of shorebirds in the Western Hemisphere? How does that compare to what is described in the article?
  • According to the article, what issues threaten migratory songbirds? What are the current threats, and what is their current population status?
  • Compare bird banding in 1948 (as described in the article) to today. How many people band birds? What is the purpose of bird banding? How is it regulated? What do you do if you find a bird band?
  • What does the author describe as “one of the most important of all conservation measures”?
  • Compare the status of the National Wildlife Refuge System in 1948 to today.