Exploration and discovery have fueled the pursuit of science and the documentation of natural history for centuries. Likewise, communicating the value of natural history has been a focus of the Western Society of Naturalists since its inception. Natural history provides a foundation for much of our research. In addition, natural history is the most accessible form of ecology in the eyes of the general public, and therefore our strongest tool to inspire awe and action among would-be scientists and naturalists, as many of us were so inspired. The intent of this year’s Student Symposium is to examine how discovery and exploration are used to communicate the importance of natural history. Our panel of scientists, explorers, and documentarians will share their personal experiences, insights and philosophies on using natural history and observation as a tool to motivate a wide audience to care about and conserve the natural world. Speakers will offer suggestions on ways for scientists and educators to communicate the value of observational ecology to the people around us, and inspire them to make scientific discoveries of their own.