Jua Im
Endangered Birds Playing Cards: my senior thesis project. Mainly, I wanted to challenge myself with a skill I'm not confident in: illustrating. Together with my broad interest in animals and the environment, the goal was to get people aware of the animals who do not have a voice.
Many people know pandas and tigers are endangered due to effective marketing by zoos and conservation groups. However, we are currently experiencing the sixth mass extinction, with dozens of species going extinct every day. In the U.S. alone, 650 species have already gone extinct, often with little recognition and underfunded recovery programs (Ferguson and Center for Biological Diversity). 
Creating a deck of playing cards featuring lesser-known endangered birds could boost interest in these species and provide an opportunity for consumers to contribute. Funds would be raised through sales of the card deck, supported by a promotional website detailing the birds and offering direct donation options.
Why playing cards?
I love playing cards. It's hands-on, functional, and opportunity for design endless. This would also mean I am constrained to picking 13 (including the joker) animals, so I'm not using too much time illustrating. That being said, I spent 45 hours and 21 minutes drawing birds.
Why birds?
I had to narrow it down somehow. There are hundreds of critically endangered animals and wanted to avoid the token animals people are already aware of. And I knew many people interested in bird-watching.
Further Directions
There are several directions I could take with this project. I could create more cards featuring different endangered species, such as frogs or salamanders, and expand the illustration styles. Some have suggested making a booklet for the birds or even a coloring book to reach a younger audience.
While the cards would ideally be made with recycled or sustainably sourced paper, mass production would require thorough research to ensure we don't unintentionally contribute to climate change.