These explorers endured uncertainties and hardships to learn more about the world, further our collective knowledge base, and publish chronicles that continue to inspire, enlighten, and educate. While some commanded expeditions, many of these explorers played integral supporting roles, such as navigating, recording, photographing, illustrating, mapping, and collecting specimens.


Through methodical study, discipline, and rigor, these researchers explained the mechanisms and relationships that define our world and the universe beyond. They observed, classified, cataloged, and analyzed to gain insights that broadened our understanding of the natural sciences.


These educators have been key players in expanding our understanding of the natural world. Whether they helped the public understand scientific news or taught and mentored the next generation, these educators inspired people to learn more and reach further.


Through their chosen medium–be it visual arts, the written word, or some other form–these artists used their creative vision to interpret the natural world. Artist depictions can clarify, intrigue and inspire the public while making the subject matter more accessible and engaging.


Though the stories of these conservation actors span various disciplines and categories, they are all united by a common purpose. Through their dedication to conservation, these individuals worked to encourage responsible stewardship and conserve ecosystems and species worldwide.


Indigenous knowledge refers to the understandings, skills, and philosophies developed by societies over time. It is continuously shaped through observation and experience, customs, and cultural practices. Indigenous knowledge holders and stewards use their language, skills, and craft to foster a deeper shared understanding of the natural world.


These individuals provided the political and financial backing crucial for others within the realm of natural sciences to do their work. Without the contributions of policy makers and philanthropists, much of our collective knowledge would not have been possible.


Image Credits

Explorers: Matthew Henson in Greenland in 1901. Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Matthew-Henson-8.jpg

Researchers: Hyman at desk, American Museum of Natural History, circa 1936. Reproduced from: Lantern Collection, AMNH Research Library, Digital Special Collections.

Educators: Pat McDonald with students

Artists: John Tyley, watercolor on paper of Cashew [Anacardium occidentale Linnaeus, Anacardaciae], ca. 1802, 42 x 27 cm, HI Art accession no. 0849.10. Image courtesy Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Conservation Actors: “Gemsbok Group, Akeley Hall of African Mammals, 1970,” Research Library | Digital Special Collections, accessed July 24, 2018, http://lbry-web-007.amnh.org/digital/items/show/22932.

Indigenous Knowledge Holders: “Water buffalo and group of people seated in field, Yung-chang, Yunnan, China, January 25, 1917,” Research Library | Digital Special Collections, accessed July 11, 2018, http://lbry-web-007.amnh.org/digital/items/show/74056.