Vermont Wildlife Education Fund has announced the winners of its statewide “Give Wildlife A Voice” student art contest.

First place and a $1,000 prize were awarded to Shakeh Hagopian, a ninth grader at Champlain Valley Union High School.

Hagopian’s winning piece, “Jewel of the forest,” depicts a red eft, which he said “played a huge role in my childhood. Its magnificent orange hue, its luminous transparent skin and its large glassy eyes were and are a magical jewel in the forests of Vermont.”

Third place and a $500 prize went to Aren Eisenman, a tenth grader at CVU.

Second place and $750 was won by seventh grader William Cunningham from the Mater Christi School in Burlington, and fourth and $250 was awarded to Molly Aeberhard, a seventh grader at the The Riverside School in Lyndonville.

Six other cash prizes were awarded together with 30 selections for exhibition.

The contest celebrates Vermont’s wildlife while giving students an incentive to explore or deepen their art skills in traditional forms.

Claudia Mucklow, a Vermont Wildlife Coalition board member, noted that the coalition jumped at the chance to provide seed money for the education fund and the art competition. “With the increase in online learning keeping young people tied to their screens even more than usual, our board thought it was important to take a step back from the digital world and celebrate the richness and diversity of wildlife in Vermont.”

The 40 top entries will be exhibited at the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro in late January and then at the Vermont Statehouse.

Rob Mullen, one of three nationally recognized wildlife artists who acted as the judges, said, “Judging was difficult due to the number and quality of the entries.”

Entries were judged for composition, technical skill, creativity, originality, story and unique focus on Vermont wildlife and wildlife habitat.

The Vermont Wildlife Education Fund was created with support from the Vermont Wildlife Coalition, the I Have a Dream Scholarship Fund and the Highland Center for the Arts.

Other judges included nationally recognized artists Adelaide Tyrol, who is also on the board of the Highland Center for the Arts, John Pitcher, and Mullen, who is chair of the coalition.

View images at vtwildlifecoalition.org/student-art-2021. For more information email David Kelley at davidkelley05602@gmail.com.

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