SOCIAL CIRCLE – Four budding bird artists have been selected as T-shirt Art Contest winners in Georgia’s 15th annual Youth Birding Competition, the state Department of Natural Resources announced recently.

A peregrine falcon drawing by Alston Li, an eighth-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design in Duluth, led the contest’s record-breaking group of 375 entries. As grand-prize winner, the 13-year-old will receive a $100 Amazon gift card and his artwork will be featured on the 2020 Youth Birding Competition T-shirts.

Originally scheduled for April 24-25, the Youth Birding Competition has been tentatively postponed to Aug. 29-30 because of COVID-19 precautions. Organizers have moved the registration deadline to July 31 and will reassess event plans this summer.

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Art contest coordinator Linda May praised all participants and stressed that the contest “isn’t just about creating art or winning.” “It’s about learning to slow down, observe and connect with nature,” May said. “Birds are a great focus since they’re beautiful, fun to watch and easy to find.”

To encourage wildlife conservation, awareness and appreciation of animals and their habitats are essential. The 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 has been rescheduled to run from 5 p.m. Aug. 29 to 5 p.m. Aug. 30, ending in a banquet at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield.

Alston Li’s art entry also led the art contest’s Middle School division. Other division winners include:

♦ Primary (pre-K through second grade): painted bunting by Jayden Lee, 8, a second-grader at Lake Windward Elementary in Alpharetta.

♦ Elementary (third-fifth grade): black-throated green warbler by Aleena Huang, 10, a fourth-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design in Duluth.

♦ High School (ninth-12th grade): American kestrel by Natalie Kassa, 14, a ninth-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design in Duluth.

Contest submissions represented 113 public, private and home schools statewide. Entries were judged by a four-person panel including a DNR biologist, two artists and a graphic designer. Judges do not see a participant’s name, school or hometown.

Photographs of all entries will be displayed electronically and division winners honored during the awards banquet Aug. 30 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. The winner for best artwork by a birding team participant will be revealed at the banquet.

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

ON THE NET

♦ T-shirt Art Contest winning entries: https://bit.ly/2FTrF1V

♦ Youth Birding Competition: www.georgiawildlife.com/YBC

♦ DNR Wildlife Conservation Section: https://georgiawildlife.com/about/what-we-do

HELP CONSERVE WILDLIFE

♦ Donate, including online: www.georgiawildlife.com/donations

♦ Buy or renew a wildlife license plate: www.georgiawildlife.com/licenseplates

♦ Purchase a hunting or fishing license: www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com

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