Lauren Johnson from Sparta High School honored in 5th Annual “Species on the Edge 2.0 Social Media Contest” in live-streamed virtual awards ceremony


Trenton, New Jersey – High schooler Lauren Johnson from Sparta High School in Sparta won third place in the fifth annual Species on the Edge 2.0 Social Media contest, a statewide educational competition open to all high school students. The contest was hosted by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and contest sponsor, PSEG Foundation on June 18, 2020. 

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“By participating in the Species on the Edge contest, I’ve learned a lot, definitely some things I didn’t know before. I didn’t know what a piping plover was until I started researching and posting about it on social media,” said Johnson. “I think that the whole contest was a great way to spread awareness for the conservation of our endangered species.”


Participating students created an online campaign that featured an endangered or threatened New Jersey species and highlighted the importance of protecting our state’s imperiled wildlife.


“It is so inspiring that even in these incredibly challenging times, events like this capture why we still can have a spirit of optimism: it brings together corporate leadership and students in the next generation, ” said David Wheeler, Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation. “We designed this contest in hopes of meeting this generation where their interest and expertise are already off the charts, and, in a sense, helping us be led by them into the future.”


The PSEG Foundation sponsored the contest and provided scholarships to the three winning students.


“I am so proud to hear that there are so many young people who have taken up the challenge—who are coming up with their own thoughts and strategies on how we can best conserve wildlife,” said Rick Thigpen, Senior Vice President of Corporate Citizenship for the PSEG Corporation and the Chairman for the PSEG Foundation. “I want to thank all of you for paying attention to our environment and to how we can make our behavior and businesses more sustainable.”


Like Johnson, first place finisher Virginia Higgins of Arthur P. Schalick High School in Pittsgrove also focused on the need to protect the piping plover. Second prize went to Rory Leadbeater of Toms River High School North for her campaign on protecting the horseshoe crab.


This year’s talented winners were honored during a live-streamed virtual awards ceremony that can be found on the Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Facebook page at


Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) is the only statewide, non-profit organization focused solely on threatened, endangered and imperiled species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. We carry out our mission by researching and managing rare animal species, restoring habitat, educating New Jersey’s residents, and engaging volunteers in our conservation projects. Since the early 1990’s, CWF scientists and educators have helped conserve and protect a variety of at-risk species of wildlife in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation. To learn more, visit