On February 29, the Design Lab @ NYU MakerSpace will host the Wildlife Conservation Design Jam in partnership with Zooterra! The Design Jam will give students an overview of current wildlife and habitat conservation efforts and discuss the hurdles that those working on conservation are experiencing with a lack of funding and interest from younger age groups. Students will take Zooterra's current platform and ideate ways to increase gamification and drive consumer engagement. The outcome of this design jam will be for students to help transform nature conservation engagement by creating a more transparent, personalized, and fun digital experience. The hope will be for students to be inspired by the work they create during the design jam and to continue working in the wildlife and habitat conservation space. There will be up to $500 in cash prizes and the opportunity for mentorship to help further their work!

Schedule of Events

  • 9:00-9:30AM - Registration: Registration and breakfast
  • 9:30-10:30AM - Kickoff: Introductions and presentations from Zooterra and conservation partners
  • 10:30-12:00PM - Research and Ideation: Tips and guidelines from experts with mentorship through the process
  • 12:00-1:00PM - Lunch: Lunch will be served while working
  • 12:00-4:30PM - Concept Development and Prototyping: Prototyping trainings and presentation building
  • 4:30-5:00PM - Presentations: 3-5 minutes per team
  • 5:00-5:15PM - Judging and Light Refreshments: Student votes will be taken into consideration
  • 5:15-5:30PM - Winners and Wrap Up: Winners are presented with prize(s) and learn how to stay involved

Wildlife and Habitat Conservation Background

Planet Earth is going through the biggest mass extinction since dinosaurs vanished 66 million years ago. We have already lost 60% of wildlife populations and 50% of tropical forests in the last 50 years. Habitat loss is probably the greatest threat to the variety of life on this planet as it is a key factor affecting 85% of all species described in the IUCN's Red List. With human activity increasingly encroaching on natural areas, even natural protected areas are not safe. A recent study published in Science magazine shows that 33% of protected land, which is the primary defense against biodiversity loss, has been highly degraded.

Charities are a central force in attempts to save natural resources, but they have built-in limitations in their transparency and engagement of consumers. After individuals donate funds, they may receive a token gift, for example, a t-shirt or sticker, but their involvement often ends there. Therefore, the direct relationship between the individual and conservation efforts typically expires at the donation phase or tapers slowly thereafter and tends to be generic. New mediums such as digital games show the potential for a more engaging experience around nature and the potential to generate more funding for its conservation.

About Zooterra

Zooterra is looking to transform the nature conservation engagement by creating a more personalized and fun experience. Zooterra's existing platform focuses on:

  • Ownership and gamification through digital collectibles linked to specific natural areas and wildlife
  • Transparency by supporting specific projects
  • Understanding impact through stories and project updates
  • Personalization through a unique Guardian profile

Zooterra is currently supporting 4M acres of natural areas in 7 countries working in collaboration with several partners on the ground.

Their vision is to live in a world where we can enjoy healthy and thriving natural habitats and wildlife. By associating defined areas of natural land and wildlife into unique collectibles, Zooterra empowers individuals to have a stake in nature and take action to preserve it.

We will also be joined by two amazing wildlife conservation partners, Wildlife Alliance and Wild Tomorrow Fund who will share some of the work they are doing on wildlife and habitat conservation.

Wildlife Alliance

Wildlife Alliance was founded to solve urgent wildlife and forest conservation crises. They provide direct protection to threatened rainforests and wildlife and utilize a comprehensive, holistic approach to combat the drivers of environmental destruction in Cambodia. Their main programs focus on protecting one of Southeast Asia’s largest intact rainforests, combating the illegal wildlife trade, caring for rescued wildlife, and working with communities through alternative livelihoods and environmental education.

Wild Tomorrow Fund

Wild Tomorrow Fund is a non-profit wildlife conservation organization based in New York and on the ground in South Africa. Wild Tomorrow Fund's mission is to save wildlife and wild places.  Habitat protection is a major focus of Wild Tomorrow Fund's work: protecting critical habitat for wildlife in a global biodiversity hotspot located in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa. Wild Tomorrow Fund has to date created two new wildlife reserves over 3000 acres in size, which will connect together to form a wildlife corridor, extending habitat for threatened wildlife including leopards, hyena, lions, rhinos and other species sharing their wild spaces.

Sponsors and Partners:


The Jury

A diverse group of wildlife and habitat conservation experts, educators, and you the student participants will be judging your pitches!

Julio Corredor, Founder and CEO of Zooterra


Julio is the founder & CEO of Zooterra. His previous experiences include consumer products R&D, management consulting, corporate strategy & innovation @Pfizer and poverty reduction @CARE.

Wendy Hapgood, Co-Founder and COO of Wild Tomorrow Fund

Wendy is the co-founder and COO of Wild Tomorrow Fund. She worked in the capital markets internationally for Barclays and Citibank before dedicating her efforts to protecting our planet.

Morgan Pecora-Saipe, Development Manager for African Parks Foundation of America

Morgan is a development manager for the African Parks Foundation of America. African Parks is a non-profit conservation organization that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities.

Daphne Liu, CEO, Americas for Softescu

Daphne is the CEO Americas for Softescu, a consulting company creating engaging digital experiences for clients, and the Youth Outreach lead for the Explorers Club.

Christina Lafontaine, Design Specialist for NYU Tandon MakerSpace

Christina is the Design Specialist for the NYU MakerSpace and has a background in Design and Technology. She previously worked as a Lead Experience designer designing and fabricating for the Media and Ed Tech industries.

The Design Lab at NYU Tandon MakerSpace will be using a Creative Commons license for all work created during the Wildlife Conservation Design Jam. This does not cover any work created by Zooterra prior to the design jam, which will remain under Zooterra copyright. Both students and Zooterra will have free access to any work created during the design jam under the Creative Commons - Attribution license.

NYU Tandon MakerSpace

The NYU Tandon MakerSpace is a cutting edge lab aiming to foster projects at the intersection of technology, creativity and innovation. It features rapid prototyping and PCB production equipment, as well as advanced machining and testing capabilities. The MakerSpace hosts the Design Lab which provides NYU students with opportunities to ideate, experiment, prototype, and build their ideas. It nurtures their creative confidence, encourages collaboration and connects them with other parts of the NYU Innovation and Entrepreneurship ecosystem, thus fostering a community of creative technologists, critical thinkers, and social innovators.