A young artist who received the Young Conservation Award from Rainforest Trust in 2017 has again honored us with her talent and passion for conservation. Evelyn Lepsch, now a senior at Charlottesville High School, was in 8th grade when she first championed rainforest conservation by painting a mural of a Cheetah at her middle school and inviting Rainforest Trust to give a presentation to students.
Fast forward four years, and Evelyn has designed this year’s Rainforest Trust holiday card, which features two tropical birds—the Critically Endangered Great Green Macaw and the Violet-tailed Sylph—soaring above a lush green rainforest.
Evelyn created the original acrylic-on-canvas painting for the card as part of her senior-year independent study project in art with a focus on conservation and climate change. She designed the independent study project because she has already taken all the formal art classes available at her school, and she didn’t want to stop creating art. Her early love of wild animals still drives her, and now her art reflects an important message for our unique times.
“It may be a cliché, but the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” really fits,” Evelyn says. “I think it’s really important to depict what’s actually happening in the natural world right now, how drastic the changes are.”
The Great Green Macaw species depicted in Evelyn’s painting—of which less than 1,000 individuals survive worldwide—is protected at two reserves Rainforest Trust helped create: Las Balsas Reserve and at the Chocó Reserve, both in Ecuador. The Violet-tailed Sylph is a more abundant species living in forests and shrubland in western Columbia and Ecuador.
These birds and all imperiled rainforest species—including big cats like the Cheetah that continues to inspire Evelyn in her conservation studies and volunteer work—are in urgent need of our protection. Luckily, we have young people like Evelyn sounding the alarm and taking action on their behalf.
“I want to immortalize these cool, endangered species,” Evelyn says. “Especially because they’re disappearing now. If we can motivate enough people who really care about them, we can actually save these incredible animals.”