Two Moose Pass classmates caught top prizes in this year’s Fish Art Contest, a competition in which students research and draw fish of their choice in the name of conservation.
Eight-year-old Gabby Bond came in second among Alaska students in her age group for her illustration of a garibaldi.
"When I looked at the picture, it was just beautiful. And then the lips stood out a lot," she said.
Olive James, who’s 12, came in third for her mahi mahi.
"I learned from my fish, it is extremely fast," she said. "I learned about what it eats — flying fish and crabs.”
The Fish Art Contest is a national competition, by conservation nonprofit Wildlife Forever. Its sponsors include the U.S. Forest Service and Bass Pro Shops.
This is the second year in a row kids from the 15-student Moose Pass School have submitted pieces. Teacher Sandra Barron said she likes to incorporate art into learning as much as possible.
“And I like to encourage our kids here at the small school to do every single thing that they can when it come to essays or art contests, and different things to participate that take them outside of just our small school," she said.
Both James and Bond participated in the Fish Art Contest last year, and won for their age groups in the Alaska category. They’re both from Cooper Landing and they both fish with family.
They both also do a lot of art.
“I draw a lot of dragons," James said.
“I draw a lot of dogs," Bond added.
James, who drew the mahi mahi, says they could choose from a list of fish to draw.
"And then you go on the list and then you look through it, you study the fish, you can look up what they look like on Google Images," she said. "You can do some research on them, see their colors. And then eventually you can decide what fish you can do.”
That element of choice is important, Barron says, since it means students are engaged.
The Fish Art Contest also has a Fish Heritage award. Alaska students submitting art for that award had to draw chinook salmon. The top-prize Fish Heritage award went to a student from Valdez.
Barron said she’s incorporated fish into her lessons before. She said art, too, is important in the classroom.
“It’s more well-rounded, what they’re doing for the learning, when we add an art component to it," she said. "Whether or not it’s a contest. But the value of the contest is kind of separate because it is exciting for them and I do want them to have accolades and awards whenever possible.”
Barron said they’ll get prizes for coming in second and third, though she’s not sure yet what they’ll be. Last year, both girls received fishing rods for winning first in their categories.