National Geographic to Celebrate Earth Day Weekend at Earth Optimism Summit: National Geographic Explorers, Executives and Staff to Shine a Light on Environmental Success Stories

To celebrate Earth Day this weekend, National Geographic will join the Smithsonian Institution and other partners in conservation for three days of conversation tackling complex environmental problems on a global scale. Fittingly titled the Earth Optimism Summit, the event will convene 1,000 thought leaders, pioneering researchers, artists, civic leaders, members of the media, philanthropists and other conservation-minded citizens to discuss what’s working and where to go from here.

Find National Geographic at the summit all weekend long at our exhibit space in the summit’s “Innovation Commons,” which will be open to the public. While there, attendees can meet National Geographic Explorers and staff, learn more about current programs, engage with National Geographic’s interactive climate change hub and other media, take a photo with the yellow National Geographic icon or a selfie with an animal from the National Geographic Photo Ark and more.

Audiences at the summit will hear from National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary E. Knell as he opens a plenary session titled “Science, Conservation, Inspiration: Artists, Scientists, and Institutions Coming Together.” Knell will discuss National Geographic's innovative and important role in the conservation field.

During “The Next Generation” session, Brooke Runnette, National Geographic Society Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer, will speak about National Geographic’s commitment to investing in bold people tackling our world’s greatest challenges. She will also discuss how social media and technology are powerful tools for sharing our explorers’ stories with people of all ages all over the world.

National Geographic Explorers will also be present across multiple stages at the summit, including a plenary presentation on “Species & Spaces,” featuring National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala and National Geographic Explorer Sean Gerrity. Find the full schedule of programming, including more than 20 events featuring National Geographic, at the summit here.

More than 30 National Geographic Explorers, staff members and supporters will attend the summit, including:

  • Gary E. Knell, National Geographic Society President and CEO

  • Brooke Runnette, National Geographic Society Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer

  • Jane Lubchenco, National Geographic Board Member; Distinguished University Professor and Adviser in Marine Studies, Oregon State University; Former Under Secretary of Commerce for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • Rob Kunzig, National Geographic Magazine Staff, Senior Environment Editor

  • Tom Lovejoy, National Geographic Explorer, Tropical and Conservation Biologist

  • Kirk Johnson, National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE) Member and Sant Director at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History

  • Steve Palumbi, National Geographic CRE Member; Director of Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University; Author of “The Death and Life of Monterey Bay”

  • Patricia Wright, National Geographic Explorer, Primatologist

  • Nancy Knowlton, National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Book Author, Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian Institution

  • Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Founder of National Geographic Pristine Seas

  • Tristram Stuart, 2014 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Founder of Feedback and Toast Ale Ltd.

  • Rick Ridgeway, National Geographic Explorer, Vice President of Public Engagement at Patagonia

  • Sean Gerrity, National Geographic Explorer, President of American Prairie Reserve

  • Joel Berger, National Geographic Explorer, Senior Scientist at Wildlife Conservation Society

  • Sam Wasser, National Geographic Explorer, Winner of USAID Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, Director of Conservation Biology at the University of Washington

  • Bill McShea, National Geographic Explorer; Co-Principal Investigator, Ecologist and Project Coordinator, eMammal; Ecologist, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

  • Pete Marra, National Geographic Explorer, Center Head of Migratory Bird Center at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

  • Roland Kays, National Geographic Explorer; Head, Biodiversity Research Lab, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences; Professor, North Carolina State University

  • Octavio Aburto, National Geographic Explorer and Pristine Seas Photographer; Assistant Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Photographer Associate, International League of Conservation Photographers

  • Jeremy Jackson, National Geographic Explorer, Senior Scientist at the Smithsonian Institution

  • Alasdair Harris, National Geographic Explorer, Founder of Blue Ventures

  • William Laurance, National Geographic Explorer, Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate at James Cook University in Cairns

  • Drew Harvell, National Geographic Explorer; Ocean Health Expert at Cornell University; Author of “A Sea of Glass”

  • Dennis Whigham, National Geographic Explorer; Principal Investigator and Senior Scientist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

  • James Prosek, National Geographic Magazine Writer, Painter for National Geographic’s Yellowstone Project, Founder of World Trout

  • Birute Galdikas, National Geographic Explorer, Primatologist and Conservationist

  • Kristin Rechberger, Former National Geographic Staff Member, CEO of Dynamic Planet

  • Rosemary Ostfeld, National Geographic Explorer, Environmental Scientist

  • Vanina Harel, National Geographic Explorer, Environmental Filmmaker

  • Ben Mirin, National Geographic Explorer, DJ Ecotone

  • Edward Hurme, National Geographic Explorer, Behavioral Ecologist

For more than 129 years, National Geographic has been investing in the bold people and transformative ideas that are creating a healthier and more sustainable planet. We’re looking forward to sharing some of our environmental success stories with the public and our partners in conservation at the Earth Optimism Summit this weekend.

Want to become a National Geographic Explorer? Learn how you can apply for a grant from the National Geographic Society here.

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