Exotic species seriously affect local biodiversity in Argentina. This article investigates how students in San Juan province perceive native and exotic species. With the help of a written questionnaire, 865 students (9-17 years old) were asked to name the plant and animal they liked most, disliked most, and perceived as most useful, and to name local species and describe their uses in the region. Students' preferences and perceptions were strongly directed toward exotic domestic species. Consequently, workshops were developed in which students were introduced by local ecologists to the diversity of native wild species and their importance for the ecosystem.