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Youth Celebrate Endangered Species Day with Inspiring Art

What would life on Earth look like without the magical creatures that call it home? Luckily, there are organizations like Endangered Species Coalition that exist to ensure we never find out.
Endangered Species Coalition works to safeguard and strengthen the Endangered Species Act, a U.S. law that enables every citizen to act on behalf of threatened and endangered wildlife – animals, fish, plants, and insects – and the wild places they call home.

The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 under President Nixon as a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found. The lead federal agencies for implementing ESA are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service. The law requires federal agencies, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or the NOAA Fisheries Service, to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. The law also prohibits any action that causes a “taking” of any listed species of endangered fish or wildlife. Likewise, import, export, interstate, and foreign commerce of listed species are all generally prohibited.

The Endangered Species Coalition uses grassroots mobilization, education, and targeted campaigns to enable every American to participate in actions that help strengthen protection for some of the most at-risk animal species in North America. Together with their national network of over 150,000 individual activists and supporters – Endangered Species Coalition is a force for good dedicated to protecting our nation’s disappearing wildlife and last remaining wild places.

One of the organization’s most inspiring campaigns is the Annual Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest. Created by children in grades K-12, these works of art beautifully depict endangered and recovered species of animals, insects, and plants that live or migrate through the United States. Since 2018, ziggie has been honored to sell Giclee prints, cards, and other giftable items featuring the winning artwork to support the Endangered Species Coalition.

You will find this year’s winners here, and below is an interview with David Robinson, former Endangered Species Day Director, sharing the origin of national Endangered Species Day and the creation of the contest to commemorate it:

 Z: Tell us about Endangered Species Day’s origin and the catalyst for the Youth Art Contest.

DR: As part of my commitment to endangered species conservation, in late 2005, I began researching whether there was an annual Endangered Species Day. After first discussing the Endangered Species Coalition idea, I subsequently reached out to California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office to determine their interest in sponsoring such a special day. The Senator’s Environmental Affairs Director encouraged me to prepare a plan that outlined the benefits, types of events, other educational activities that might occur, and testimonials from various organizations supporting Endangered Species Day. After major support from the Endangered Species Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, and other groups, along with Senator Feinstein’s staff, on April 6, 2006, the Senator introduced a Resolution designating a special Endangered Species Day, which the U.S. Senate unanimously approved. The annual celebration on the third Friday in May has grown dramatically to include hundreds of events throughout the United States and other countries.

During the first few Endangered Species Days, art teachers began sending us their students’ illustrations of endangered species. As interest grew, we decided it would be a good idea to hold an annual art contest preceding Endangered Species Day. The Saving Endangered Species Youth Art contest, founded in 2010 for K-12 students, has become popular with teachers and their students who realize that it is an excellent way to learn more about endangered species conservation.

Z: How does the contest work? How do kids get inspired and pick specific subjects for their artwork?

DR: The Endangered Species Coalition works with teachers and parents before the contest encourages students to participate. The students are provided with guidelines that encourage them to research any of the currently protected endangered or threatened species or species that have recovered thanks to the Endangered Species Act and no longer require protection.

Z: If one of our readers had to choose one thing to do to support endangered species, what should it be?

The biggest thing that any of us can do is vote for leaders who support the conservation of endangered species. Elections have far-reaching consequences on wildlife, plants, and the places they call home. Outside of that, considering the impacts of our choices. That is what sets apart and makes them such an important partner. You research for us to assure that your purchase supports and builds upon the compassionate economy. Our choices add up, and the more that we can do to limit our impact on the planet and the species we share it with, the better we all will be.

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