Indiana Conservation Challenge: A Project-Based Learning Initiative


The Indianapolis Zoo wishes to inspire and engage Indiana Schools to take part in local conservation projects through Project-Based Learning and Service Learning projects.  The Zoo will work with your school to provide resources and expertise to conduct local conservations projects in your communities.

Do you have a PBL project that ties directly to the Zoo, its habitats or animals? Send a short description to to see if you qualify for a limited number of free field trips tickets specifically offered to schools taking part in PBL. Inquiries must be received by April 30 to be considered.

What is Project-Based Learning?

(As defined by Buck Institute for Education's, BIE, website)
PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge.

Indiana Conservation Challenge Links

Listed below are links to resources for the Indiana Conservation Challenge. For questions or to share your Indiana Conservation Challenge Projects email

Local Community Partners/Resources

Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources (IDNR) – Endangered Species 
     ○ Ind. Endangered Wildlife by County including habitats - IDNR
     ○ Animal Information
Acres Land Trust – protects natural areas in northeast Indiana, southern Michigan and northwest Ohio
Audubon Society - Indianapolis Chapter
Butler University: Center for Urban Ecology
Central Indiana Land Trust – preserves natural areas in central Indiana
Conner Prairie – an outdoor museum featuring five historic areas, a museum center and 1400 acres
Dunes Learning Center
Environmental Education Association of Indiana
Holliday Park
Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC)
Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Indiana Children and Nature Network
Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management
Indiana Master Naturalist Program
Indiana Natural Resources Foundation
Indiana Park and Recreation Association
Indiana Recycling Coalition
Indiana Wildlife Federation
     ○ Backyard Quiz Contest
Indiana Wildlife Rehabilitators
Indianapolis Zoo
Indianapolis Prize - the biennial Prize is the world's leading award for animal conservation
IUPUI: Center for Earth and Environmental Science
Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District
Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab at Marian University
Purdue Extension Offices
     ○ 4-H and Youth Programs
Purdue Zip Trips
Red-tail Land Conservancy – preserves, protects, and restores natural areas and farm land in east central Indiana [close]

Conservation Organizations

Audubon Society (National)
Izaak Walton League of America – working to advance conservation, engage people in outdoor recreation, and safeguard natural resources for the future
      ○ Indiana Chapter
Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots – youth-led community action program to carry out locally and globally-based service projects addressing issues relevant in their communities
Learn With Zoos – ZEBRA – Lessons on animal conservation
National Wildlife Federation
Rachel Carson Council – promotes alternative, environmentally benign pest management strategies to encourage healthier, sustainable living
Sierra Club
     ○ Building Bridges to the Outdoors
SNAP: Science for Nature and People
Soil Science Society of America
Wild Birds Unlimited
USDA: Soil Education
Wildlife Conservation Society
World Wildlife Fund [close]


IDNR - Bats In Indiana and Fact Sheet Links
     ○ Bats of Indiana State Parks & Reservoirs Brochure
     ○ Indiana Bats
     ○ Mobile Acoustic Monitoring of Bats
     ○ Summer Bat Roost Monitoring Project
     ○ White-nose Syndrome in Bats
IDNR – Beaver
IDNR – Bobcats
     ○ Bobcats in Indiana
Bat Conservation International
Indiana State University: Center for Bat Research
Nature Conservancy – Bobcats
River Otters in Indiana
Swamp Rabbits in Indiana
River Otters - National Geographic Kids
• University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web Fact Sheets
     ○ Bat, Big Brown
     ○ Bat, Indiana
     ○ Bat, Little Brown
     ○ Beaver
     ○ Bobcat
     ○ River Otter
     ○ Swamp Rabbit [close]


     ○ Barn Owls
     ○ Bobwhite Quail
     ○ Peregrine Falcon
Audubon Society
      ○ Great Backyard Bird Count
Audubon Hummingbirds @ Home
Bald Eagle - National Geographic Kids
Bird Indy
Cornell Lab – Merlin (Bird ID app)
Project FeederWatch
Ducks Unlimited
     ○ Indiana Chapter
IDNR Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area – Sandhill Crane Migration
Pheasants Forever [close]


IDNR – Honey Bees
Bumble Bee Watch
Butterfly Conservation Initiative
Clemson's Vanishing Firefly Project
Indiana Beekeeper Association
Monarch Butterfly - National Geographic Kids
Monarch Butterfly Journey North
Monarch Watch
The Xerces Society - Invertebrate Conservation
     ○ Bumblebee
     ○ Endangered Invertebrates [close]

Other Pollinators

Pollinator Partnership – promoting & protecting pollinators [close]

Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish and Aquatic Invertebrates

IDNR – IN Amphibian Monitoring Program
     ○ Copper-bellied Watersnake
     ○ Crawfish Frog
     ○ Eastern Box Turtle
     ○ Hellbender
     ○ Hellbender
     ○ Kirtland's snake
     ○ Massasauga Rattlesnake
     ○ Snuffbox
Copperbellied Watersnake – US Fish & Wildlife Service
FrogWatch USA - Association of Zoos & Aquariums
Indiana Bass Federation Nation
Kirtland's Snake – IUCN Red List
     ○ Michigan State University Extension
Lake Sturgeon – US Fish & Wildlife Service – Great Lakes Lake Sturgeon Collaboration
National Fishing In Schools Program
Snuffbox (fresh water mussel) – US Fish & Wildlife Service
Trout Unlimited
     ○ Northern Indiana's Chapter [close]


IDNR – Forestry
     ○ Indiana Endangered Plants
     ○ Indiana Arbor Day
     ○ Project Learning Tree
     ○ Arbor Day Foundation
Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society
Indiana Urban Forest Council
Purdue Master Gardener
Tree Indiana [close]

Invasive Species - Local

IDNR – Invasive Species page
     ○ Aquatic Invasive Species page
     ○ Asian Carp
     ○ Emerald Ash Borer
     ○ Honeysuckle
     ○ Kudzu
     ○ Purple Loosestrife
     ○ Purple Loosetrife
     ○ Terrestrial Plants
     ○ Terrestrial Plants
     ○ Zebra mussels [close]


IDNR - Great Lakes Restoration
     ○ Indiana Nature Preserves
     ○ Indiana Prairies
     ○ Old Growth Forests
     ○ Wetlands in Indiana
Cornell Lab YardMap Network
First Green: Links as Labs
Hoosier Riverwatch
Illinois/Indiana Sea Grant
Indiana Farm Bureau
     ○ Ag in the Classroom
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
Landscape for Life
Little River Wetlands Project
National Wildlife Federation - Wildlife Watch
Nature Conservancy
     ○ Nature's Classroom
     ○ Go Green: Nature Rocks
     ○ Pipewort Pond
Reconnecting To Our Waterways – a grassroots initiative designed to reclaim the benefits of Indianapolis' waterways
RiverXchange – for 3/4th grade students to learn about water resources
5 Gyres – working to restore healthy, plastic-free oceans [close]

Educational Resources

Children and Nature Network – creating a world in which every child can play, learn and grow in nature
Cornell Lab – User's Guide for Evaluating Citizen Science
Hoosier Energy
Kid Wind Project
Mighty Acorns
National Geographic Kids
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration
Nature Explore – transforms children's lives through research-based outdoor classroom design services, educator workshops, and natural products
United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency – Environmental education page [close]

Project Based Learning

Buck Institute for Education – Why Project Based Learning – Project Based Learning
Magnify Learning (formerly Indiana Collaborative for Project Based Learning)
• Videos
     ○ Changing Education Paradigms
     ○ Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us
     ○ Project Based Learning Explained
University of Indianapolis: Center for Excellence [close]

Funding for Your Conservation Projects

generationOn – service learning and PBL resources
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful - KIB Club – Outdoor Classroom funding
Project Learning Tree – environmental improvement project funding through PLT educators [close]