CONWAY (AGFC) – As part of the 11th annual International Endangered Species Day May 20, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office in Conway has announced the winners in the 7th Annual Arkansas Endangered Species Art Contest for students from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
According to Alyssa Bangs, fish and wildlife biologist with the USFWS, the contest is an excellent way to put the spotlight on endangered species with future conservationists.
"Protecting America's wildlife and plants today is a legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren, so that all Americans can experience the rich variety of native species that help define our nation," Bangs said. "This year, we received over 1000 entries from 50 schools and 4 home schools across the state. More than 30 threatened, endangered and candidate Arkansas species were represented."
Each artist earning a first- through third-place score received a plaque and Acorn Naturalist Gift Card valued at $25, $50, or $100. The grand prize winner received a plaque and $250 Acorn Naturalist Gift Card.
"We'd like to thank all the teachers and students that entered artwork, and encourage them to participate again next year," said Bangs.
All winning artwork can be viewed at http://www.fws.gov/arkansas-es/esdaywinners2016.html.
While the nation's 99 percent success rate at preventing extinction in species listed under the Endangered Species Act is something to celebrate, there is still much work to be done to ensure more animals do not find their way on that list.
Allison Fowler, one of the judges in this year's art competition, is the Wildlife Diversity Program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Part of her job is to work with conservation partners on a state, regional and national level to identify species of greatest conservation need and take steps to prevent their decline before they become candidates for the Endangered Species Act. The Arkansas Wildlife Action Plan establishes these needs, whether they be for research or habitat restoration, and helps secure funding through special grants available to states through the State Wildlife Grants Program.
"The most recent update to the plan was a three-year process and includes 377 species that need research or conservation actions, such as habitat restoration, to keep them from further decline and prevent them from becoming federally listed," Fowler said.