Shining the Light on Endangered Species

Wildlife all over the world are rapidly declining and facing extinction. Many scientists believe that we are in middle of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction. In this continually altering world that we share with these unique species, every day is a chance to make a positive change to help the threatened and endangered species.  If you follow our social media, then one day that you surely did not miss was Endangered Species Day, which falls on the third Friday of May.

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Endangered Species Day is a national celebration to recognize endangered species and their habitats, and to educate students and the public about their importance. There are over 1,400 species protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act alone. The Endangered Species Coalition (ESC) started this national day 12 years ago. Along with the celebration, the ESC holds the annual Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest. This year over 1,400 young artists from across the nation submitted artwork.

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In Elkins, West Virginia, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) AmeriCorps program, U.S. Forest Service, and WV Division of Natural Resources (DNR) hosted an Endangered Species Day event on May 20th. The event featured a day of fun, interactive games and activities that demonstrate the importance of threatened and endangered species and why they need our help. Participants could become endangered species biologist, take a walk through a giant inflatable bat cave, enjoy the artwork of young local students in an endangered species art show, or get their face painted like their favorite species. The celebration was kick-started by the Save Endangered Species Youth Art Contest- Elkins gallery opening and awards ceremony on May 19th.

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As part of the 12th annual Endangered Species Day, young artists got involved to raise awareness of the decline of these important species by participating in the 2017 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest. This year Elkins and the surrounding area had over 100 local young artists participate in the contest! Artworks from the participants of the local competition were also submitted to the national competition. Winners of the Elkins Art Contest were announced at an awards ceremony and gallery opening on May 19th. All submitted artwork was displayed at the Endangered Species Day event in Elkins on May 20th.

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In conjunction to the Endangered Species Day event and art contest, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Field Office in Elkins held Endangered Species Day lessons for classrooms. Teachers could arrange to have an endangered species educator come to their classroom to present to the students about threatened and endangered species of West Virginia. During these lessons, students became actively engaged in the protection of threatened and endangered species by learning about conservation techniques that could be used at home. West Virginia species, such as the Virginia big-eared bat and Fanshell mussel, were highlighted in fun interactive games like Fungus Among Us. During the lessons students learned about the importance of these plants and animals in the ecosystem and understand why it is important to protect these species and their habitats.

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To learn more about Endangered Species Day or about the Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest visit www.endangered.org/campaigns/endangered-species-day/

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