Yosemite at sunrise

Dear America Sample Writing/Research Project

Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy

Species Project, for a Writing/Research Classroom

Choose a species (plant or animal) that is connected to some bigger issue.


You could choose a species that is extinct or endangered — and connect it to a driver of extinction. For example, you could write about the javan rhinoceros and connect it to deforestation. You could write about the polar bear and connect it to climate change.

You could choose a species that has been brought back from the brink of extinction. For sample, you could write about the bald eagle and talk about how legislation (the Endangered Species Act, a ban on DDT) helped that bird recover.

Think of your goal as educating the public.

You will need to do some research and make sure that the facts you have are accurate and from reliable sources.

Here’s what you need to produce.

  1. A fact sheet. This should be a single page on which you carefully select only the most important facts about the plant or animal. Give some thought as to how you want to organize that information.
  2. Annotated bibliography or “For more info …” Give a page of sources (where your information came from) and give a few lines about each source that will make someone else want to go look up info. Be sure the sources are credible.
  3. A creative element. A piece of art, a poem or song, a game. You will be sharing this with the class.
  4. An essay. This should be a formal piece of writing. Your thesis should make the connection between the species and the issue. I want you to think about:
    • Organization (how to begin? How to end?)
    • Development (did you include enough details?)
    • Audience (who is reading this? Cater to the general public)
    • Purpose (to educate the public)
    • Clarity (can I understand what you’re saying?)
    • Conciseness (use as few words as possible)
    • In-text citations and a list of references at the end

Special thanks to Janine DeBaise, Terrain.org education editor, for creating this sample writing/research project.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.