All photos courtesy of the Endangered Species Coalition
Endangered Species Day occurs annually on the third Friday of May – and what better way to engage young people than some healthy competition? The Endangered Species Coalition put out the word for kids in grades K-12 to submit their drawings and paintings, all to raise awareness for plants and animals facing threats here in the United States.
"We are inspired and amazed by the submissions we receive ever year," David Robinson, the environmental education director of the Endangered Species Coalition, told MNN. That's easy to see, with paintings like the ocelot portrait by 16-year-old artist Nicole Dully, pictured above. We chatted with Robinson about the initiative and its effect.
MNN: What was the impetus behind creating an art competition geared toward young people?
David Robinson: After the first year or two that Endangered Species Day was held, we began receiving drawings and other artwork of endangered species, sent from students at various schools. We saw that it had the potential of engaging young people to learn about endangered species conservation. We organized a formal art contest, the Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest, soon after.
What impact do you hope to have?
Kids really seem to connect with the contest and understand that our most vulnerable species need safeguards like the Endangered Species Act. We hope that by encouraging young people to learn about endangered species through their art that they'll make good decisions about ways they can help to protect wildlife and their habitats.
What happens to the art after the contest is over?
We bring the grand prize winner and his family to Washington, D.C., where they receive an award and meet their member of Congress. The 40 semifinalist entries are displayed at the United States Botanic Garden on Capitol Hill. Following that, some of the art has been featured in U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service calendars and elsewhere online. We also hope to arrange other public exhibits in the future.
Describe the response you've gotten from young artists as well as the community.
We have had a tremendous response every year! Thousands of young people have submitted incredibly thoughtful and artistic entries. We have received letters from teachers, parents and students emphasizing that the contest has given them a special opportunity to learn about endangered species/conservation (for some for the first time). The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, International Child Art Foundation, and various state art associations have been instrumental to its success.
Take a look at the winners (and some of our personal favorites!) below:
Grand Prize: Kentucky arrow darter by David Starovoytov, 6th grade
2nd place: American alligator by Seungeun Yi, 14
K-2 category winner: San Francisco garter snake by Mark Deaver, 8
3-5 category winner: Bald eagle by Difei Li, 10
6-8 category winner: Northern aplomado falcon by Claire Noelle Kiernicki, 12
9-12 category winner: Hawaiian hoary bat by Adam Pavan, 15
Northern spotted owl by Jessalyn Lu, 15
Stellar sea lion by Kaitlyn Kolsky, 16
Sierra Nevada big horn sheep by Elizabeth Joy Kiernicki, 16
North Pacific right whale by Hanna Chacko, 8
Welsh's Milkweed by Maisie Jane Jaworsky, 7
You can see the rest of the amazing submissions in the Endangered Species Coalition's Flickr group.To learn more about what you can do to help on Endangered Species Day, head on over to www.endangered.org.
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