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Students Celebrate Endangered Species with Art

On May 26, the lobby of the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO), in Gloucester Massachusetts, was noisy with the happy cries of children as they discovered their portraits of endangered species on display in celebration of Endangered Species Day.. 

Cheryl and Lila Mulvey pose with Lila's entry, an Atlantic sturgeon, which won an honorable mention.

About 31 students, from kindergarten through eleventh grade, showed off their award-winning work to over 100 family members gathered to view the artwork display before a short award ceremony. This year, our fifth annual Endangered Species Act Art Contest was the most successful yet. Four hundred and seventeen art pieces were submitted from 15 schools, primarily from Massachusetts, although one entry was from Ontario, Canada. Submissions greatly surpassed our previous record of 290 entries from eight schools.

Back in February, art contest creator Edith Carson sent letters to Massachusetts’ schools inviting students to submit artwork portraying endangered marine species that occur in the region. Detailed rules about content and formatting instructed the youngest students to focus on the animals and their habitats, while older students were invited to include information about threats to the endangered whales, sea turtles and fish that chose for their subjects. The results were varied and beautiful, and illustrated not only the animals, but the research done by the artists and their affection for these rare animals.

Given the large number of entries, judging was very difficult this year! Concept, composition, color, expression, and even the creativity or relevance of the artworks’ titles were considered by the judges. For the first time this year, young artists were allowed to submit sculptures – an additional challenge for judges. The winning artwork was placed on display in the GARFO lobby throughout the month of May, pleasing staff and visitors alike.

Dan Morris, GARFO’s Deputy Regional Administrator, was thrilled to emcee the event. “The best part was how excited the parents were for their students, particularly when I expressed my appreciation of the way the pieces seamlessly combined art with science.” The winners and honorable mention artwork pieces are currently displayed on an online 2016-2017 calendar. This calendar will help us enjoy the results until next year’s artwork arrives.