An annual contest to promote student interest in the study of birds and natural history was another great success this year at Omaha. Students in grades kindergarten through 12th from a number of private, public, religious, and home schools in the greater Omaha metro area were involved in the contest sponsored by The Audubon Society of Omaha (ASO), a local chapter of the National Audubon Society.
"This contest is a wonderful way to have students study and draw different birds, and promotes education in their natural history," said Jackie Scholar, the ASO coordinator. "Some of the art teachers feel that birds are good subjects to teach children to be observant and to use detail in drawing and painting. Some of the art teachers also happen to like birds and are passing on their love of birds to their students.
"It was wonderful to see the children’s drawing of birds," Scholar said. "They were so beautiful. Each year we receive a very diverse selection of birds portrayed. This year we had bald eagles, goldfinches, blue jays, peregrine falcons, various hawks, red-headed and red-bellied woodpeckers, great horned and barn owls, a piping plover, sandhill cranes, a yellow-rumped warbler, a chestnut-collared longspur, a pacific gull, a wood duck, an Eskimo curlew, a white throated sparrow, bluebirds, and red winged blackbirds."
"The students were judged for realism or graphic design or for cartooning," Scholar said. "The media used varied and included watercolor, pastels, oil paints, and colored pencils and collages.
All of the 110 entries were on display at the awards ceremony held April 4 at the gym of Bellevue University. This event "was a wonderful experience for the children and their families," Scholar said. "There was so much excitement."
Winners of the Best of Show awards were:
- Emmie Doerr - Elementary
- Halle Magid – Middle School
- Ashley L. Hauger – High School
- Halle Magid – Middle School
There were several award categories for the grade levels: excellence-realism, merit-realism, merit-graphic design and excellence-cartoon.
Kristie Horn, holding an Eastern Screech-Owl, a special guest at the art contest awards event.
Prizes, according to Scholar, included stuffed birds which emit an accurate bird call when squeezed for the youngsters, books on birds, bird guides at various levels for children in the 10 – 15 yr old groups and for older students, art pads, color pencils, and gift certificates to a local art store. Each entrant receives a certificate of recognition.
Judges this year were local artists or birders, Don Wesling, Jo Bartikowski, Susan Anderson and Clark Pflanz. Loraine Blankenau, Nellie Falzgraf, and Jerry Toll of ASO, also volunteered to help with the contest.
Kristie Horn of Raptor Recovery Nebraska was present at the awards ceremony with an Eastern Screech-Owl that had been raised from a chick, and has not adapted to the wild so it cannot be released.
The Fontenelle Forest Association Gift shop was a source for many of the awards given to the students.
A complete list of winners is presented at the Audubon Society of Omaha website.
"It is a lot of work to have this contest," Scholar said, "but it is very rewarding." She has been coordinating the event for about four years. The number of entries varies each year, with 185 entries in 2008, about 44 in 2007, and 193 in earlier years.
Scholar "absolutely" looks forward to the event again in 2010.