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DNR announces t-shirt art winners for youth birding competition
2017 YBC High School Division and overall Winner: Blue Jay by Ava Wang, 10th grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design. (Submitted Photo | The Covington News)

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. –  Four budding bird artists recently were selected as T-shirt Art Contest winners in Georgia’s 12th annual Youth Birding Competition, the state Department of Natural Resources announced today.

A blue jay drawing by Ava Wang, a 10th-grader at SKA Academy in Duluth, led all 248 contest entries. As grand-prize winner, the 16-year-old received a $100 Michaels gift card and will have her artwork featured on T-shirts at the Youth Birding Competition at the end of this month.

Art contest coordinator Linda May praised participants and stressed that the focus “isn’t just about art.”

“It’s about teaching kids to observe and connect with nature,” May, environmental outreach coordinator for the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section, said. “Birds are a great focus since they’re beautiful, fun to watch and easy to find.” 

To encourage stewardship, awareness and appreciation of wildlife and their habitats are essential. This contest helps form that foundation through art.

The T-shirt Art Contest is part of the Youth Birding Competition, an annual event in which teams of children and teens try to find as many bird species as possible throughout Georgia in 24 hours. This year, the free bird-a-thon runs from 5 p.m. April 29 to 5 p.m. April 30, ending in a banquet at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield. Registration for the birding competition closed March 31.

Ava Wang’s art entry also placed first in the High School division. Other division art winners included:

  • Primary (pre-K through second grade): northern cardinal by Margaret Wang, 7, of Duluth. 
  • Elementary (third-fifth grade): barn owl by Richard Lin, 10, of Duluth. 
  • Middle School (sixth-eighth grade): blue jay by Sarah Tan, 13, of Duluth.    

All division winners this year are students at SKA Academy of Art & Design, a testament to the school’s training and the students’ talent. Contest submissions represented 53 public, private and home schools statewide. Entries were judged by a three-person panel including a DNR biologist, an artist and a graphic designer. In this “blind” process, judges do not see a participant’s school or hometown.

Entries will be displayed and division winners honored during the awards banquet April 30 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. Photos are posted at in the “YBC T-shirt Art Contest” album.

The birding competition and T-shirt Art Contest are sponsored by DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section, The Environmental Resources Network Inc. or TERN – friends group of the Nongame Conservation Section – and others including the Georgia Ornithological Society and Atlanta Audubon Society.