Written by Carey Goss, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Specialist/Photos courtesy of USFWS

Birds are a part of everyday lives, especially in an area where one can see large flocks of birds during spring migration. The Art Residency program at Malheur Refuge is unique in that it combines science and art to expand student’s understanding of bird species while building creative skills in conjunction with the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival.

This year’s program will focus on shorebird species. Students will be given a variety of shorebird photographs that are representative of migratory bird species seen in Harney County. Wildlife Refuge Specialist Carey Goss from Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will teach students about bird migration, wildlife habitat, and shorebird characteristics.

Artist Liz Foster from Bend Art Center will present a creative art technique using watercolor and mixed media to capture and create individual art pieces of shorebirds. The artist will walk students through a variety of art techniques. After experimenting with a variety of art media and practicing these techniques, students will create of their painting by choosing a shorebird of their choice.

Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is the main sponsor to bring this program to Harney County.

This year’s program will:

  • Foster awareness of wildlife habitat and its importance for bird migrations
  • Learn about shorebird characteristics to spark curiosity about the natural world and encourage participation in the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival 
  • Encourage creative experimentation
  • Develop the skill of close observation for scientific and artistic purposes
  • Learn a variety of creative techniques using watercolor and mixed media
  • Provide a rich artistic and educational experience for rural students
  • Generate artwork for the festival’s student art exhibit in a way that is inclusive  

Helping our youth through art programs may be one of the most important steps we can take together. Art helps youth with the development of motor skills, language skills, social skills, decision-making, risk-taking, and inventiveness. Investing in youth art programs not only expose students to the benefit of the arts, but also help youth success in all school subjects and in life.

Three youth art canvas pieces will be available for auction to help support the art program in the local area. The proceeds will support the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to hire an artist and purchase art supplies to reach out to at least 600 students in a two-week period across all school districts in Harney County.

Auction starts Friday at the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival Art Show and concludes at Saturday night’s banquet.