Forty years ago, the Endangered Species Act was introduced as a way to protect species on the verge of extinction. This year marks the eighth year that Endangered Species Day will be celebrated in the U.S. It was started by the U.S. Senate and is celebrated on the third Friday in May every year.
To celebrate, thousands of people flock to parks, zoos, schools, community centers, aquariums, botanical gardens, libraries, wildlife refuges, and more. Kids and adults alike can take time to become educated about how we can all help protect endangered species and their habitats. There will also be opportunities to participate in festivals, field trips, park tours, community cleanups, film showings, presentations, and other educational and philanthropic activities.
Children in grades K-12 can also participate in the Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest by submitting posters and pictures. Organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Endangered Species Coalition, the Association of Zoos, and the International Child Art Foundation, the contest is open to students in all 50 states.
All artwork must feature at least one land- or ocean-dwelling endangered species in the U.S. Winners from four grade level categories will be chosen (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12), and one grand prize winner will be chosen from those four. Art will be judged based on Concept, Composition, Color, and Expression. All artwork must be submitted by March 15th, 2013.
Those interested in spreading the word about endangered species and how to protect them are also invited to plan their own Endangered Species Day event. Stopextinction.org provides an Endangered Species Day Toolkit that includes step-by-step instructions to planning and pulling off a successful event, as well as many other educational resources. You can also use their Endangered Species Day event registration form to help spread the word about your event.