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

This February, students all around Harney County had the opportunity to learn about shorebirds, gulls and terns and created unique pieces of art during this year’s Art Residency Program developed by Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Bend Art Center for the annual Harney County Migratory Bird Festival.

This program would have not been possible without Friends of Malheur Refuge, who was the main sponsor bringing this program to Harney County.

Refuge Specialist Carey Goss, of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and artist Liz Foster, of Bend Art Center, traveled to schools across the area sharing their knowledge with local students. This year’s program served over 600 students in grades K – 8.

Students they visited each chose a bird image to study and re-create using watercolor paint. Every class learned about a variety of species of shorebirds, gulls and terns, as well as their habitats, calls, and how far they can migrate. They also learned some tips for drawing what they see, and multiple watercolor painting techniques. The integration of art and science made this program especially notable. Participating in this program was fun for the students and the instructors alike.

Each student worked hard on his or her piece of art and was proud to show it off. The paintings from this Art Residency Program were displayed around Burns and Hines at local businesses for visitors to see during the week of the festival.

Additionally, at least one student’s painting from each grade is featured in specially-designed nature note cards. The note cards are available for purchase at the Friends Nature Store, with all proceeds supporting FOMR’s local arts education program. In addition, five students’ pieces were selected to be printed on canvas and auctioned to support FOMR’s Art Residency Program in Harney County next year.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the Bend Art Center thanks Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and all Harney County schools for participating in the Art Residency Program. Helping our youth through art programs may be one of the most important steps we can take together. 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.