Each year the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources teams up with Wildlife Forever to conduct the national State Fish Art Contest. Students depict a state fish and write a one-page essay to compete for scholarships and other prizes. This year the contest includes a new category. In addition to three categories for grades 4-12, the contest now has a category for grades 1-3.

The state fishes for Alabama are largemouth bass and the fighting tarpon. Artists can also draw state-fish from other states. In addition to the artwork, all of the artists except those in grades 1-3 are required to write a one-page essay with facts about the fish, its natural habitat, and the importance of that habitat.

Entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2012, and mailed to Wildlife Forever. All artwork is judged by Wildlife Forever, which also handles contest details and awards prizes, such as scholarships, art supplies and fishing gear. Art techniques may include oils, scratch-board, pointillism, chalk, pastels, charcoal, colored pencil, acrylics, dry brush, watercolor, crosshatch, lead, collage, linoleum printing, or crayon.

Other changes in this year’s contest include the size of the art, which may be 9” x 11” or 9” x 12”. Specific rules of the contest may be found on the Wildlife Forever website, www.wildlifeforever.org.

Previous Alabama winners are archived at www.outdooralabama.com, keyword “state fish art.” Winners are announced May 1 of each year. One Alabama entry won the title of the national “Best of Show” in 2005. Connery Carson submitted a pencil drawing of a bass pursuing a crayfish.

Wildlife Forever is a non-profit organization working to preserve America’s wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and scientific management of fish and wildlife species. Wildlife Forever has funded conservation projects in all 50 states. To learn more visit, www.wildlifeforever.org.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.

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