Since early February, kids, parents, classrooms, bird lovers, moms and others have been inspired to enter the “Eagles Forever! It’s Our Duty for Future Generations” contest with their essays, poems and artwork that answers the question “The bald eagle is back! Why is that important to America?”
From the hundreds of single and joint entries received, actress Amy Smart and other contest judges selected sisters Goldie, 13, and Rachel, 11, James of Miami Beach, Fla. as the artwork category winner, and Garrett Ruley, 10, of Asheville, N.C. as the essay category winner. Both have been awarded trips for four to Washington DC where they will showcase their entries and join contest judges, Grammy Award-winning gospel performers The Blind Boys of Alabama and other special guests at the Endangered Species Act celebration on June 28.
“Being part of this contest and reading essays and artwork from such a variety of Americans has been an inspirational experience for me,” said Smart. “It’s rewarding to see that so many young people care deeply about protecting our wildlife treasures so future generations can experience and enjoy what we have today.”
Eagles Forever! Winners
Ruley’s winning essay describes the Endangered Species Act as a voice for all animals that cannot speak for themselves, and the voice that saved the bald eagle. He feels it is essential to protect this voice because “…keeping the Endangered Species Act shows that we care about the people of the future, just as when the people who voted to pass the law in 1973 were thinking of us.”
The James sisters’ winning art entry, which displays a pair of human hands supporting a bald eagles’ nest, also emphasizes the importance of keeping the Endangered Species Act intact. Inside the nest is a detailed drawing of the Earth and a majestic bald eagle clinging to North America, its home.
Finalists — two in the 500-word story category and two in the artwork category — each have received $200 gift certificates to Amazon.com and a 12-month subscription to National Geographic or NG Kids Magazine.
Essay finalist Lydia Ham, 11, of Vermont submitted a poem highlighting the importance of the bald eagle’s resurgence for children of all cultures. The other essay finalist, Max Kortenbach, 10, of Florida, describes the significance of his personal experience seeing hundreds of swooping bald eagles during a trip to Alaska. The experience made a profound, lasting impact on Kortenbach. He writes, “If I could vote or be President one day, I would definitely choose to protect animals first before taking over an area.”
Artwork finalists include Rachel Ward, 13, of Florida and Molly Nemer, 11, of Minnesota. In their entries, both girls use a combination of poetry and colorful images that capture the beauty and strength of the bald eagle and showcase why its survival is important for future generations of Americans.
The Eagles Forever! contest was held as developers and other powerful special interests are urging Congress to drastically weaken the protections that have been provided to America’s endangered wildlife, including the bald eagle, for the past 30 years. It also coincides with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed delisting of the bald eagle from the Endangered Species Act.
Smart selected the two winners and four finalists along with three other judges, including Kerri Allred, 12, founder of AllGreenKids.com; Sophie McKibben, 12, editor and publisher of Bookworm magazine; and Steve Winter, contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine.
To view the winning and finalist entries or contact a senator about the Endangered Species Act visit the Eagles Forever web site.
The Eagles Forever! contest is sponsored by Earthjustice, a non-profit public interest law firm based in Oakland, Calif. that believes protecting the bald eagle is our responsibility as Americans, and that is committed to safeguarding America’s natural heritage for future generations.