News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

State-Fish Art Contest always close to my heart

I always enjoy receiving e-mails and media releases from Doug Darr, a good friend who is in charge of the state’s aquatic education program.

Several years ago, Darr worked as a District I fisheries biologist out of Harris Station in Limestone County. Whenever I had a fishing question I couldn’t answer, Darr always had an answer.

Now that Darr is involved in the state’s education program, he often sends me information concerning things like the 2007 State-Fish Art Contest. He knows I have written about this contest for many years and that many people from North Alabama participate in the program. Darr and I were even asked once to help judge Alabama entries.

The ninth annual State-Fish Art Contest for Alabama students is under way, and entries must be postmarked March 31. Winners will be announced May 1.

For contest information or to download a State-Fish Art lesson plan and entry form, visit the State-Fish Art Web site at, or call toll-free (877) 347-4278.

You can find more information about the contest there as well, but according to Darr’s release, the nationwide contest encourages young artists to draw and learn about their state fish and fish from other states as well, and to compete for art scholarships to attend the Art Institutes International Minnesota.

“The State-Fish Art Contest is part is a fun and innovative way to introduce America’s youth to the wonders of our natural world,” Wildlife Forever’s president and CEO Douglas H. Grann said in the release. “With the new scholarship awards from The Art Institutes International Minnesota and other prizes, the State-Fish Art Contest provides unique opportunities that young artists and anglers will not want to miss.”

This year, the entry rules have been changed to permit young artists to create an illustration of any official state fish depicted in its natural habitat. The artwork must be the contestant’s original, hand-done creation.

Participants must include a written composition on the fish’s behavior, habitat and conservation.

The contest is open to students in grades 4-12. Entries are separated into three grade categories: 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12.

Winning designs also will be featured on at, and the Web site for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,

I have had the privilege to speak to several of the young winning artists over the years. Many of the contestants told me they worked by using an trial-and-error technique until their artwork was what they wanted it to be.

Several of the students said it took them more than a month to finish. In working on a piece for that long, well, that’s dedication.

But that’s also why they became champions of the event — they took the time to do it right.

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Paul Stackhouse
Paul Stackhouse

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