For many young people, art is an ideal way to express their feelings and knowledge about the world around them—including the environment. That was a key reason the Endangered Species Coalition introduced the Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest, an integral part of the 14th annual Endangered Species Day, which will be celebrated on and around May 17, 2019.
THE YOUTH ART CONTEST provides K–12 students with an opportunity to learn about endangered species and express their knowledge and support through artwork. More than 1,500 young people from throughout the country entered the 2018 contest and we encourage teachers and their students to participate in 2019.
“Drawing and painting animals is a great way for my students to sharpen observational skills and practice the art elements of color, texture and form as they worked on their paintings,” said Deborah Greenwood, an art teacher at Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School (Cape Cod, Mass.), who participated in the 2018 contest. “This project was also a great way to connect art to science.”
“This is usually my students’ first time entering any type of contest,” said Lori Katz, a teacher in the Talented and Gifted program at Findley Oaks Elementary School in Johns Creek, Georgia. “It helps incorporate art into their learning; allowing the animal to ‘come alive’ in their minds.”
Brandon Xie, the 2018 contest grand prize winner, confirmed that it can be a valuable learning experience. “It helped me learn a lot about endangered species,” said the 9-year-old fourth grader from Lexington, Mass. “I needed to look up the lists to find where different endangered animals live. I was inspired (actually, angry) when I saw the sea turtles trapped in nets. I also learned more, including how pollution hurts animals.”
THERE ARE MANY WAYS to introduce the contest: “My students learned about endangered animals and then researched the animals they wanted to draw,” said Lori Katz. “They became experts on their animals before drawing, including why they are endangered.
“I distributed lists of endangered species and encouraged my students to do some online research, as they viewed images of a species they might consider for their paintings,” added Deborah Greenwood. “They also viewed art created by other students whose work was selected for the previous contest and made important connections with students from other regions.”
Engaging the class in a discussion about endangered species conservation is also a good way to prepare. For example, discussion prompts can include: “What is an endangered species? Why is it important to protect endangered species? What is your favorite species? What can we do to help protect them?”
“I reminded the students that they might find out their chosen species could actually come off the endangered list and we discussed what would be the reasons,” said Greenwood. “They also had great discussions about some of the endangered species found in their own region of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.”
Because the artwork is submitted electronically (see “Contest Details” above), teachers can later display their students’ original artworks as one way to recognize Endangered Species Day, on or near May 17, depending on schools’ end of year schedules.
Visit www.endangeredspeciesday.org for more information, including complete contest guidelines, an art lesson plan, and the 2018 contest winners’ and semi-finalists’ artwork. The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2019.
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The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of conservation, scientific, education, religious, sporting, outdoor recreation, business and community organizations—and more than 150,000 individual activists and supporters—all dedicated to protecting our nation’s disappearing wildlife and last remaining wild places.
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