Colorful Endangered Species Win Youth Art Contest

Kids and teens hope to motivate people to protect and conserve.

green sea turtle
"Green Sea Turtle".

Kaylee Doo / Endangered Species Coalition

From an American alligator to a green sea turtle, the winning subjects in the 2021 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest are colorful depictions of species on the brink of devastation or those that have since recovered.

The subjects are all animals or plants listed as endangered or threatened under the United States Endangered Species Act or those formerly listed under the Act and are now considered recovered. The contest was sponsored by the Endangered Species Coalition, a network of organizations and individuals that works to save at-risk species and disappearing habitats.

"Judges in particular give special attention to images depicting stories of hope for species conservation and restoration," Jeanne Dodds, creative engagement director for the Endangered Species Coalition, tells Treehugger.

"Additionally, judges look for visual arts techniques including use of composition, color, and expression across all accepted media types, in addition to evaluating the way in which concepts behind the images are expressed."

The organization received more than 800 entries from young people in grades kindergarten through 12 from across the United States and U.S. territories.

"We are honored to have received so many entries, given the many unique challenges presented to schools, students, and teachers as a result of the pandemic," Dodds says.

The first place was the green sea turtle at the top of the page by Kaylee D. (age 12), from Johns Creek, Georgia.

"I see art as a useful method for raising awareness of the dramatic decrease in population of these imperiled species,” Kaylee said. “I am able to create and use my art to show the beauty of these imperiled species in hopes of motivating people to help protect, conserve and restore many imperiled species.”

The grand prize was this crested honeycreeper created by Phoebe C., age 16, of Maple Valley, Washington.

crested honeycreeper
"Crested Honeycreeper". Phoebe C. / Endangered Species Coalition

Phoebe will receive a $200 certificate for art supplies, a virtual art lesson by a professional artist, $300 toward the purchase of native plants for pollinators, and a gift certificate toward tickets to the student artist’s favorite museum. Her teacher also has been awarded a $200 certificate toward the purchase of classroom art supplies.

There were also first place winners in each grade category.

Jayden L., age 7, of Cary, North Carolina, won in the K-2 category for this American alligator.

American alligator
"American alligator". Jayden L. / Endangered Species Coalition

Ten-year-old Elie C. of Portland, Oregon captured the grades 3-5 win for this depiction of laurel dace, a type of freshwater minnow.

laurel dace
"Laurel Dace". Elie C. / Endangered Species Coalition

Heidi B., age 13, of Saratoga Glen, California, drew the California least tern and won the grades 6-8 category.

California least tern
California least tern. Heidi B. / Endangered Species Coalition

Damion S., 17, of Denver, Colorado drew this colorful Puerto Rican parrot to win the grades 9-12 category.

Puerto Rican parrot
Puerto Rican parrot. Damion S. / Endangered Species Coalition

"The overall impressions of the winners and the rest of the entries is one of amazement: Every year the judges and ESC staff think the work is the most impactful it's ever been—and without fail, each year the range, quality, skill, and power of the work continues to grow and diversify," Dodds says. "Judges particularly noted that the works by the 2021 semi-finalists and final winners had strong narrative qualities that carried viewers deeper into the story of the species depicted."

See all the winners and entries at the ESC Flickr gallery.