Dennis Elementary Student Places First in Wildlife Foundation's Art and Essay Contest

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TRENTON - The nonprofit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is celebrating the winners of the 18th Annual Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest with an online art show throughout June.

According to a release, the statewide educational contest is open to all fifth-graders and inspires students to explore wildlife and biology by writing a well-researched essay and creating original artwork on New Jersey’s endangered and threatened species. The first-place winner from Cape May County is Yae-Jin Billiris, from Dennis Township Elementary School.

"In this incredibly challenging time when we appreciate the natural world around us more than ever, these talented children inspire us with their vibrant artwork and passionate essays about rare wildlife species in New Jersey, from the bobcat to the piping plover," stated David Wheeler, CWF executive director. "We certainly wish that we could have honored them in person, surrounded by their families and teachers, but protecting their health through social distancing is obviously our top priority. We hope that they can join us for an in-person field trip later this summer if health guidelines allow it."

Students were asked to draw a picture of one of New Jersey’s over 80 endangered and threatened wildlife species and compose an essay about how the animal became endangered and what can be done to help protect it. The Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest encourages students to learn about local environmental issues, express their concerns for the world around them, think creatively about ways to improve it and to consider how their actions impact the natural world.

This year’s talented group of winners are being honored through a virtual art show. Artwork and an excerpt of each essay will be debuted on Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Facebook page ( and collected on CWF’s website ( at the end of the month.

The contest was sponsored by PSEG Foundation, NJEA, Church & Dwight, GAF, Atlantic City Electric, Phillips 66, and the Zoological Society of New Jersey.

Since 2003, over 30,000 children from across New Jersey have entered the Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest.

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