Winning entry to become stamp; national and state prizes awarded
BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. -- Wildlife Forever has announced that the deadline for entry in its 8th Annual State-Fish Art Contest is March 31. Through the contest, students across Kansas and the United States have the opportunity to win national recognition and prizes while learning about their local state fish and the conservation of aquatic habitats. The contest is open to all students in grades 4 through 12.

To enter, young artists work with teachers to create an illustration of their state-fish. Kansas entrants must use the channel catfish. A written composition on its behavior, habitat, and conservation is also required.

State-Fish Art Contest entries are separated into three grade categories: fourth-sixth, seventh-ninth, and 10-12. Winning contestants from every state are honored in each category. All contest winners receive a gift certificate for art supplies from Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, as well as other prizes. Winning designs will also be featured on the official State-Fish Art website .

An outstanding piece of artwork in each grade category will be awarded the top honor as “Best in Show” for 2006. One “art-gallery caliber” entry will win the 2006 Art of Conservation Stamp Award and become the 2006 release of Wildlife Forever’s conservation stamp program. Much like the way the federal government uses the proceeds from the federal duck stamp to fund wetlands conservation, sales of Wildlife Forever’s Art of Conservation stamps have funded conservation education and fishery projects across America.

The next Art of Conservation stamp, featuring the artwork of Tiara Jenkins of Pittsburg, Mo., will be released during a special “First Day of Issue” ceremony. The U.S. Postal Service will commemorate the new official State-Fish Art Stamp with a postage stamp to ensure it is philately correct. Each cover will bear the special postmark commemorating first day of issue from the U.S. Post Office's Wildlife Forever Station at Mall of America. Individual cachets are limited and sell for $7. Limited inventory of the 1999 to 2004 stamp designs are also available for sale while supply lasts.

State winners of the 2006 State-Fish Art Contest will be recognized at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. An art display will feature all the winning artwork from across the country, and an award ceremony on July 29 will recognize the young artists. National Best of Show winners will be announced in each grade category and the Annual Art of Conservation Stamp Award winner will be unveiled.

Additional events on July 29 will include art activities with the Art Institutes International Minnesota and other unique opportunities for the winners and public alike. The Minnesota Twins will host the artists and their families as the Twins face the Detroit Tigers in the Metrodome on July 30. Winning artists and their artwork will be recognized on the playing field before the game in a special ceremony.

Teachers should visit the State-Fish Art website for complete details and to download a free lesson plan. Entries must be postmarked by March 31. Winners will be announced on Earth Day, April 22. The art displays and award ceremony at Mall of America are free and open to everyone.