International Day for Biological Diversity Lesson Plans For Teachers

Students learn about heroes from all over the world fighting for biodiversity and consider how one person can have a lasting impact on the future. Encourage your students to think about how they too can make a positive impact. Resources for Elementary, Middle and High School Students. 

International Day of Biodiversity Lesson Plan
Credit: MY HERO

Elementary students watch this animated video “The Ocean We Want To Know,”  which takes them on an adventure around the world to some of the planet’s most exotic ocean locations, singing a song of ocean celebration to the tune of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know.” The story presents stunning facts about the ocean in a fun and unique way, speaking to a young audience.. 

The Ocean We Want To Know

Produced by:Macgillivray Freeman Films
One World One Ocean's new animated video celebrates the wonders of the ocean with stunning facts about our connection to the planet's lifeline.

Students watch The Kelp Lady about marine biologist Nancy Caruso who led the move to replant Orange County's kelp forest.  Lesson plans included organized by grade level. 

Laguna Beach Eco Heroes: Nancy Caruso

Produced by:The MY HERO Project

Nancy Caruso aka "The Kelp Lady" has worked hard to restore the kelp off of the shores of Orange County. (running time 3:22 min.)

THE KELP LADY Produced by the MY HERO Project: TRT 8 min 41 seconds

The Kelp Lady features marine biologist Nancy Caruso, who led the move to replant Orange County's kelp forest. She's also involved in many different causes aimed at replenishing sea life along California's coast.


Elementary Lesson Plan Link

Middle Lesson Plan Link

High School Lesson Plan Link

Resources and Discussion Questions for Middle and High School Students

Muir was a famous California conservationist with a radically non-anthropocentric view of nature. Understanding the world in this way can help us understand the importance of biodiversity.  MY HERO recommends this excellent essay by Harold Wood, Jr. about his hero, John Muir.  This story is available in text with audio so students can listen and read along. Great for ESL/EFF Students!  After reading the essay, take a close look at the portrait by Robert Shetterly of a young John Muir. 

John Muir

By: Harold W. Wood, Jr.

This is an excellent essay about John Muir, the famous California conservationist, and his radically non-anthropocentric view of nature.

John Muir was a naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States.

By: Robert Shetterly

Rachel Carson is credited by many as the mother of the environmental movement.  She raised awareness of the danger to the environment, as well as health risks, from the use of chemicals. 

MY HERO recommends reading this essay by Wendy Jewell about her hero, Rachel Carson, which is available in text and audio - great for ESL/EFF students. After reading the essay, take a close look at her portrait by Robert Shetterly. 

Rachel Carson

By: Wendy Jewell .

                                Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring,                                         was the mother of the environmental movement.

Rachel Carson raised awareness of the environmental and health risks associated with the proliferating use of chemicals.

By: Robert Shetterly

Discussion Questions

1. How did the belief that all living things are interconnected influence both John Muir and Rachel Carson?

2. What has been the effect of John Muir and Rachel Carson's work on the biodiversity of our world?

3. How are John Muir and Rachel Carson's concerns still relevant today?

4. Why did artist Robert Shetterly include words in the background of his portraits of John Muir and Rachel Carson? What other words or quotes could Shetterly have used in his portrait of John Muir? What other words or quote could Shetterly have used in his portrait of Rachel Carson? 


Learn about Indian author, scholar and environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva who works to preserve biodiversity on earth. Why is the work Dr. Shiva doing important? How has Dr. Shiva helped protect the world's biodiversity?

Dr. Vandana Shiva

By: David Kemker

Dr. Vandana Shiva works to preserve 

biodiversity for the planet.

Here are two stories to read about heroes working to preserve important ecosystems that are part of the earth's biodiversity. Carlos Mendes worked to protect the Amazon rain forest and Mary Hagedorn works to protect coral reefs.  

Chico Mendes

By: Jeff Trussell

Chico Mendes died a martyr defending the rainforests.

Help Mary Save Coral

By: Amanda Molinaro from Irvine

 Dr. Mary Hagedorn works to repopulate the world's coral.    


Discussion Questions

1. How does the work of Chico Mendez and Mary Hagedorn impact the future of Earth's biodiversity?

2. What character traits do Chico Mendez and Mary Hagedorn have that contributed to their heroic efforts to preserve biodiversity?

3. Who else is working to protect the biodiversity of our world? Share his or her story about the work they are doing with MY HERO.


Thomas Lovejoy is called the "grandfather of biodiversity." Read about him in this exciting newswire story told from the "lungs of the earth"-- the Amazon.

Camp Amazon: Inside the 'lungs of the Earth'

By: Amanda Paulson - CSM Staff writer

Dr. Lovejoy, the "godfather of biodiversity," brings celebrities and scientists to the Amazon to sleep in hammocks and see our biggest environmental crises: climate change and biodiversity loss. 


1. Why is the ecosystem of the Amazon important to the rest of the world?

2. What are the risks of climate change and deforestation to the biodiversity of the Amazon?

3. Why is the work that ecologists like Thomas Lovejoy are doing important? 

4. Who are other scientists and activists working to protect the Amazon's resources? Share their story with MY HERO. 


MY HERO recommends watching one or more of the following films about heroes working towards protecting the earth's biodiversity. Students then consider the discussion questions. 

A Walk Through The Land of A Thousand Hills

Chema Domenech
Claver Ntoyinkima, a native park ranger, shares the secrets of Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda as he guides us through the forest.

Looking After Our Environment: James Price Point

Produced by:Mark Pearce
Mark Jones speaks out against a gas development complex that spells doomsday for some species living around James Price Point.

The Arctic Garden

Produced by:Will Parinello/Tom Dusenberry

Caroline Cannon, an Inupiat indigenous leader, takes aim at offshore oil drilling that threatens her people and the biodiversity in the Arctic Sea. (running time 4:18 min)

Habitat for the Endangered

Produced by:Tom Dusenbery

A biologist by training, Rudi Putra is dismantling illegal palm oil plantations that are causing massive deforestation in northern Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem. (running time 4:15 min.)

Tiger Talk

Produced by:Ravi Prakash, Ashutosh Joshi

Animated documentary celebrating those who fight to save the tiger population in India. The story is told through the eyes of a tiger. Made for the WWF-India.

Discussion Questions

1. How do each of the people featured in these films demonstrate that one person can make a difference?

2. How are each of the people featured in these films heroes for biodiversity? What impact have they had on the future of our interconnected world?

3. What heroic character traits do these people exemplify that led them to the work they have done?

4. What concerns do you have about the future of Earth's biodiversity? What can you do? Share your story with MY HERO.


Learning Outcomes:

Students will develop a better understanding of our interconnected world and the importance of a healthy biodiversity.

Students will analyze issues regarding biodiversity today, and how one individual can have a lasting impact on the future.

They have the opportunity to evaluate issues in biodiversity today and create an action plan. 

My Hero suggested viewing

TED Ed | Why is Biodiversity Important?

An excellent introduction video which explains the three components of biodiversity: ecosystem, genetic and species. Learn about the Amazon rainforest, one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world; coral reefs.



Laura Nietzer

The International Day of Biodiversity lesson plan was created by MY HERO Education Outreach Director Laura Nietzer.

Teachers: Visit MY HERO for additional curated multimedia resources about biodiversity.

Related External Links

PBS Learning Media: Biodiversity
Credit: PBS

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Organizer created on 4/10/2019 10:34:48 AM by Laura Nietzer

Last edited 4/27/2021 10:45:27 AM by Laura Nietzer