In Their Eyes: Conservation + Comics Project


Welcome to the “In Their Eyes: Conservation + Comics” Project!

Reservations are now open for the '23/'24 school year.

This unique NGSS-aligned STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) project uses art to teach science and was created after the team leads recognized a need for diverse representation in STEM fields as well as positive nature experiences for youth. Research shows that almost all environmental education programs have positive results regarding conservation behaviors and that science identity is a strong predictor of students’ future scientific pursuits. This project’s goals are to create a program that positively impacts students’ attitudes and behaviors regarding conservation and their identity as scientists.

The Conservation + Comics program was designed to follow a three-touch model with 1) interactive lessons in the classroom or home, 2) a science education field trip – either in-person or virtual - to Cabrillo National Monument, and 3) a scientific poster showing for friends, family, and/or the public. Feel free to use the materials as you see fit - you can complete the full curriculum, part of the curriculum, or simply use the materials.

By using innovative tools such as art, games, and comics the programmatic leads hope to connect youth to conservation science in a manner that will make a lasting impact.


Meet the Team

Headshot of smiling woman with short, red hair who wears a leopard-print blouse.

Image courtesy of IF/THEN® Collection

Samantha Wynns

Samantha Wynns is a conservation biologist and science educator with the Great Basin Institute and National Park Service. Sam both does science and communicates science at Cabrillo National Monument.

Smiling woman with long, wavy brown hair wearing black blazer and glasses.

Image courtesy of IF/THEN® Collection

Dr. Claire Meaders

Dr. Claire Meaders is a biologist and assistant teaching-professor at the University of California - San Diego. She studies how students learn to contribute to more effective science education techniques.

Smiling woman with brown afro wearing glasses, black blazer, yellow shirt.

Image courtesy of IF/THEN® Collection

Dr. Jaye Gardiner

Dr. Jaye Gardiner is a cancer biologist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. She is an artist and illustrator, and is heavily involved in science communication and STEAM education.


Activity Materials


2 images;child draws on paper with colored pencils;sketch pad with drawn comic.

NPS/A. Warneke

This detailed instruction manual is intended for educators who wish to use part- or all of the curriculum developed for this project. In it are instructions for both virtual and in-person learning, and this project supports both formats as well as a hybrid-approach.

Download the instruction manual here


Trading Cards

Trading cards of “Samantha Wynns”, “Dr. Claire Meaders”, and “Earyn McGee”.

The team who developed “In Their Eyes: Conservation + Comics” brings you ... drumroll please... scientist trading cards!

Download the Trading Cards Brochure

All of these women are real scientists that do real science that helps the environment. Did you know that there are so many different types of science? Can you collect enough scientists to save an entire ecosystem? Trade with your friends to bring these diverse scientific disciplines together and save our planet’s species, one trading card set at a time.

Download Set1 of the Cards
Download Set2 of the Cards

You can even add yourself, a friend, or a colleague to the card deck! Download the DIY (do it yourself) trading card example, instructions, and template to create your own.

Download Trading Card Template

A lack of exposure to diverse STEM professionals is directly linked to lower diversity in STEM fields – youth need to see role models like them in order to follow a career pathway. These trading cards serve as one method of increasing exposure to traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM, such as women and people of color.



A drawing of a bat flying over a spiky plant. Text says Batty About Agave
This short 6 page educational comic teaches a variety of facts about the Shaw's Agave, the bats who pollinate them, and a variety of conservation biology concepts in a fun and lively way!

Comic script was written by Samantha Wynns and Dr. Khoa Tran. Illustrations by Dr. Khoa Tran.
Download Batty About Agave

A drawing of a gray lizard with an orange neck

Come learn about the Belding's Orange-throated Whiptail, a lizard species endemic (local) to the San Diego area, scientists who study lizards, and a variety of conservation biology concepts in a fun and lively way!

Comic script was written by Samantha Wynns and Dr. Jaye Gardiner. Illustrations by Dr. Jaye Gardiner.

Download Clone of a kind


Accessible Documents

Download individual accessible pdfs of the crossword puzzle answers and National Park Service photo release forms (only needed if participating in a field trip) as well as scientific poster-examples for your students here.

Crossword Puzzle
Crossword Puzzle Answer Sheet
NPS Photo Release Form (English)
NPS Photo Release Form (Spanish)
Poster Template Comic
Poster Template Infographic
Poster Template Poster


Field Trip Reservations

To reserve a virtual or in-person field trip and/or a scientific poster showing with Cabrillo National Monument, fill out the registration form here.

Research and Results

Through the collection and analysis of survey data from the pilot cohort, the design team was able to measure changing attitudes and behaviors regarding conservation and identity as scientists. Results demonstrate positive learning outcomes and decreases in scientist stereotypes held by students.

To read more about the research and results: View of A comic-based conservation lesson plan diversifies middle school student conceptions of scientists (

If you are interested in collecting and analyzing data from your classroom, contact us at



1. Ardoin, N. M., Bowers, A. W. & Gaillard, E. Environmental education outcomes for conservation: A systematic review. Biol. Conserv. 241, 108224 (2020).

2. Vincent-Ruz, P. & Schunn, C. D. The nature of science identity and its role as the driver of student choices. Int. J. STEM Educ. 5, 48 (2018).

3. Digest of Education Statistics, 2018.

4. Portray Her: See Jane

5. Aloisio, J. M. et al. Pre-college urban ecology research mentoring: promoting broader participation in the field of ecology for an urban future. J. Urban Ecol. 4, (2018).

6. Foster, M. J., Blair, M. E., Bennett, C., Bynum, N. & Sterling, E. J. Increasing the Diversity of U.S. Conservation Science Professionals via the Society for Conservation Biology. Conserv. Biol. 28, 288–291 (2014).

7. Williams, D. R., Brule, H., Kelley, S. S. & Skinner, E. A. Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG): a study of students’ motivation, achievement, and science identity in low-income middle schools. Int. J. STEM Educ. 5, 8 (2018).

8. Saxton, E. et al. A Common Measurement System for K-12 STEM education: Adopting an educational evaluation methodology that elevates theoretical foundations and systems thinking. Stud. Educ. Eval. 40, 18–35 (2014).

9. Christensen, R. & Knezek, G. The Climate Change Attitude Survey: Measuring Middle School Student Beliefs and Intentions to Enact Positive Environmental Change. 16 (2015).

10. Chambers, D. W. Stereotypic images of the scientist: The draw-a-scientist test. Sci. Educ. 67, 255–265 (1983).

11. Miller, D. I., Nolla, K. M., Eagly, A. H. & Uttal, D. H. The Development of Children’s GenderScience Stereotypes: A Meta-analysis of 5 Decades of U.S. Draw-A-Scientist Studies. Child 7 Dev. 89, 1943–1955 (2018).

12. Christensen, R., Knezek, G. & Tyler-Wood, T. Alignment of Hands-On STEM Engagement Activities with Positive STEM Dispositions in Secondary School Students. J. Sci. Educ. Technol. 24, 898–909 (2015).

13. Stets, J. E., Brenner, P. S., Burke, P. J. & Serpe, R. T. The Science Identity and Entering a Science Occupation. Soc. Sci. Res. 64, 1–14 (2017).

Last updated: April 4, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive
San Diego, CA 92106


619 523-4285

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