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Endangered Species Essay Contest

Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest

Empowers 5th grade students to advocate for an endangered or threatened species from New Jersey through a well-researched, creative essay and original art piece.



2017 Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest winners were honored at a ceremony at New Jersey Education Association Headquarters in Trenton on June 1, 2017.

View the winning entries in CWF's 2017 Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest as well as which schools from New Jersey participated by using our interactive Story Map.


Past Winners of the Species on the Edge Contest

This STEAM-based contest enables 5th grade students to advocate for an endangered or threatened species from New Jersey through a well-researched, creative essay and original art piece. Check out the past winners of this contest since the beginning.

Species On The Edge - Testimonials

Testimonials from educators about the Species on the Edge Contest. Submit your own testimonial.

Species on the Edge Circle of Winners Club

Open to all past and current winners of the Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest, the Circle of Winners Club will offer unique access to upcoming wildlife events, academic and professional networking, merchandise discounts, and up-close and personal wildlife experiences.



Students select one of more than eighty endangered New Jersey species and write a well-researched essay creatively advocating for that animal. Students can complete their essay and accompanying art piece as part of a week-long Common Core and NextGen Science standards aligned unit or with a quick one day introduction. All educator materials, including handouts, PowerPoints, and detailed lesson plans, are included within the contest kit. Because students become champions for New Jersey animals by learning where they live, what they look like, and what threatens their futures, a diverse range of learners are able to engage in a real-world research project where writing and art take on significance beyond the walls of the classroom.



List of Endangered and Threatened Species in New Jersey

Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest Teacher Resource Kit - 6.6MB
Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest Teacher Resource Kit. Includes comprehensive unit and lesson plans which include pre-writing graphic organizers, Powerpoint presentations, grading rubrics, & other resources to help implement the contest into your daily lesson plans.



Stephanie DAlessio, CWF Director of Education: Email

Find Related Info: Species on the Edge


2017 Art Contest Winning Entry


The Endangered Species Coalition (ESC) is pleased to announce our 2018 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest, which is open to K-12 grade students, including those who are homeschooled or belong to a youth/art program. The contest is an integral part of the 13th annual Endangered Species Day on May 18, 2018. 

Contest Guidelines

Please review and follow contest guidelines carefully

  • All entries are to be submitted electronically at endangered.org/submit-your-art. (See “Submitting Artwork” section below for details on sending student art.)
  • All artwork must depict species chosen from one of the lists as noted in “Subject Matter” (below). We will make no exceptions to this rule.
  • Entries must be received by March 1, 2018. Late entries will not be judged.
  • All entries become the property of the Endangered Species Coalition.

Subject Matter

To be eligible, students’ artwork must depict a land or ocean-dwelling species that either lives in or migrates through the United States and its waters, or a plant/flower that is found in the United States, and has been placed on the threatened/endangered species list or is considered a recovered species or a candidate species (proposed to receive protection). You can choose a species from one of these  groups. 

  • Threatened/endangered vertebrate animals (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes), invertebrate animals (clams, snails, insects, arachnids, crustaceans), flowering plants, and non-flowering plants (conifers and cycads, ferns and allies, lichens) : https://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/us-species.html

  • Recovered/delisted species

  • Species proposed to receive protections

If you choose a species not included on one of these lists, it will not be accepted.

  • We strongly encourage participants to have their pieces tell a story of hope. An example of this could be a painting of an endangered marine species with people in the background cleaning up a beach.
  • Judges particularly appreciate artwork showing species in their habitats. Don’t forget about the plants that support all life!


  • Students’ artwork must be original. Computer-generated images and traced images will not be judged. It is critical that submitted artwork not be overly derivative of images found on the Internet, in print media, or elsewhere.
  • Media: We accept artwork done in crayon, ink, acrylics, oil paint, pastels, water color, colored pencils, scratchboard, color marker, chalk, pastels, charcoal, or paper collage. We cannot accept artwork done using plain black pencil or weak colored pencil.
  • No lettering, words, signatures or any other markings may appear on the front of the artwork. This includes labeling the depicted species, writing one’s name, or a signature. Lettering that is creatively incorporated into the art (such as a posted sign) is allowed. If you are submitting artwork with accepted writing, please check the appropriate box on the entry form.  Submissions that include prohibited writing will not be judged.

Submitting Artwork

  • Artwork should be submitted electronically at endangered.org/submit-your-art. It must be 2700×3600 pixels resolution. Accepted file types are limited to: jpeg, psd, tiff, jpg.
  • Follow directions carefully and provide all information requested on the submission form.
  • You must submit your artwork by March 1, 2018. Late entries will not be judged.


A prestigious panel of judges will select winners in four categories: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12. The grand prize winner will be selected from the four grade-level winners. In choosing the grand prize winner, judges pay particular attention to the concept or story that the artwork tells. We encourage artists to pay attention to the overall theme, saving species.

The art will be judged on four primary artistic elements:

  • Concept: How well does the work relate to the endangered species theme?
  • Composition: How well do the elements of line and form work together?
  • Color: How does color enhance the artwork?
  • Expression: How imaginatively does the work convey an idea or emotion?


Grand Prize: The grand prize-winner will receive a round-trip flight arranged by the Endangered Species Coalition to Washington, D.C. and accommodations chosen by the Endangered Species Coalition for himself/herself and one guardian to attend a rewards ceremony in May, 2018. All other expenses related to the trip are the responsibility of the winner’s guardian. The grand prize is not redeemable for cash. The grand prize-winner will also receive an award plaque, an art lesson from a professional wildlife artist (in person or via Skype) and $50 worth of art supplies. In order to provide a competitive opportunity for as many youths as possible, the grand prize winner is not eligible to win again for three years.

Grade Category Winners: Each of the grade-level winners will receive a plaque and $25 worth of art supplies.

ESC will award certificates to contest semi-finalists (usually the top ten in each grade category). In addition, teachers, parents, and youth leaders can download and print a Certificate of Participation for all contest participants here.

The Endangered Species Coalition will seek opportunities to exhibit the artwork of the contest semifinalists.

Contest Partners

Endangered Species Coalition

The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of hundreds of conservation, scientific, education, religious, sporting, outdoor recreation, humane, business and community groups across the country. Through public education, scientific information and citizen participation, we work to protect our nation’s wildlife and wild places. The Endangered Species Coalition is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition working with concerned citizens and decision-makers to protect endangered species and habitat. www.endangered.org

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. www.aza.org


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