Save the Gorillas Curriculum Project

an integrated curriculum of personal health, art, and science

Guiding the way for children to care for themselves, their community, and the world around them


We are pleased to present Art of Conservation’s Save the Gorillas Curriculum Project. Recognizing the connection between the health of people, animals, and the environment is vitally important to our world’s health, we explore our shared biodiversity and how all living things are interconnected. Based on a One Health-oriented approach, our course offers lessons supporting students and community.

From 2006 to 2016, I had the privilege of leading in-country teams in this thoughtful learning experience. Daily, we joined community members living in the foothills bordering Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Mexico’s Caribbean coastal region. These regions are special to cultural and biological diversity and are in particular and immediate need of protection.

At its heart, our curriculum is a grassroots approach. Communities from Rwanda, for example, use these lessons to focus on the protection of the endangered mountain gorilla and are included here to highlight these site-specific lessons.

Photographs, videos, and artwork display student engagement in our experiential learning practices. The artistic component is important because it allows for an expression of imagination that expands not only the artist but that of the viewer. One Health is well expressed through art just as effective learning is enhanced by creative expression.

Now, with a team of international educators, we have adapted these original lessons into an easy-to-use format for students anywhere in the world. Our five modules include an overview framing knowledge, skills, and attitudes & values through instructional activities. Guided discussions and assessment prompts allow for personal reflection, artistic expression, and community leadership. Lesson supports and artifacts of learning are specific examples of our techniques for teaching and student mastery of the materials.

We want the curriculum to inspire a sense of advocacy and leadership. Our goal is to preserve and rehabilitate our precious natural resources and diverse cultures. Whether you are an educator, community facilitator, artist, someone concerned for the health and well-being of Planet Earth, we hope this website is a helpful resource.


More frequent outbreaks of emerging diseases will occur due to our destruction of nature. Wild animals are forced closer to people and livestock – giving viruses opportunities to thrive. How we interact with our natural world is crucial for examination and change. Working together, starting with our children, is our approach to a healthy and more sustainable world for all. On behalf of the Save the Gorillas Curriculum team, thank you for your interest. Julie

I was full of joy and happiness working with Julie and our students at Art of Conservation. With the team in the classroom, these were some of the most enjoyable times in my life. Seeing the happiness we brought to the children I will never forget it. At the office after the lessons, the team and I were either too exhausted to speak or we couldn't stop laughing about the fun we had together with the students. Today I am rewarded when AoC graduates kindly approach me, hug me, and thank me for being their conservation educator! They tell me the knowledge acquired from the program is the foundation of their life today. I continue my career in conservation education thanks to the opportunity and direction Julie gave to us. The approach we take to help people and mountain gorillas is important and it all began with her belief in us.
Valerie Akuredusenge
Program Director, Conservation Heritage-Turambe, Rwanda
I first met Julie when she was running an NGO (The Art of Conservation) that was helping with community education and I was in-charge of Gorilla Doctors. I was impressed with her tenaciousness and determination. When she learned about one health and how the health of the wildlife (mainly gorillas) was linked to the health of the community she immediately developed a curriculum embracing the concept and proceeded to develop a staff and teach this within the framework of doing art in the community schools. It was quickly apparent that the children enjoyed this and that she was helping them understand about the environment and the fact that they were part of it and how they could help sustain it. Gorilla Doctors felt strongly enough about this program that the veterinarians donated their time to help teach in her classrooms. Julie left Africa to expand her program in other continents but left behind a vibrant team that continues her legacy. A true and impactful legacy. It would be wonderful if her program could reach out to more classrooms.
Mike Cranfield DVM
Executive Director Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Inc.
It was a great privilege to be in Art of Conservation. I gained knowledge about planting trees and sustainability, especially wildlife conservation! Julie and her team drove to our school every Sunday. We were very excited about their kindness and generosity! It's really remarkable and we won't forget what you did!
Angelique Mukeshimana
Art of Conservation graduate, Rwanda
I met Julie Ghrist quite some years ago when we were both in Kigali, and I was immediately compelled by her quiet determination to make a difference using art and education for the conservation of biodiversity. We have stayed in touch over the years and I was very happy to get an email from her in 2021 to let me know about the completion of the website for her organization Art of Conservation. Going through the site I am very excited about it - it has great content that can be applied by teachers and others, in a very user-friendly way. We in the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management will surely refer to this fantastic resource. I love that Julie created this website as a way to ensure sustainability of the work she started in Rwanda and passed on to her Rwandan colleagues to nurture and own. I believe this work will have a lasting impact on conservation.
Beth A. Kaplin
Director, Center of Excellence in Biodiversity & National Resource Management, University of Rwanda

Education Offerings

Students will embark upon this journey of learning through these five modules which provide an intimate connection to their surroundings and the planet. This journey is driven by curricula-based literacy and artistic expression and connected to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

We envision a biologically diverse world where people, the environment & animals thrive together in good health.

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