Written by Carey GossPhotos by Carey Goss

The annual Art-in-Resident (AIR) Program for Harney County youth may have been cut short this year and the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival cancelled, but artwork of migratory birds will be posted to exhibit.

In March, some students throughout Harney County had the opportunity to learn about a variety of migratory birds and created unique pieces of art using clay, tissue paper, paint and colored pencils through the AIR Program.

The Friends of Malheur NWR are proud to sponsor the AIR Program which is a dynamic arts and science curriculum designed to teach youth about migratory birds, their habitat needs, and to learn a new creative art technique. Ultimately, the program encourages students in kindergarten through 8th grade to observe, understand, and share what they have learned about migratory bird conservation through art. 

Classrooms are visited by Refuge Wildlife Specialist, Carey Goss who teaches the students about migratory birds and their habitat needs and wildlife conservation. Students are given a variety of bird photographs that are representative of migratory bird species seen in Harney County. Local artist Marsallai Quick presented creative art techniques with local youth to build a lifelong appreciation for art. Quick walked students through a variety of art techniques so youth can capture and create individual art pieces of migratory birds.

“I really enjoyed going to the little outlying towns!” Quick said, “The kids were so fun and eager to learn about migratory birds along with the art projects. I love seeing how the kids made their own clay versions of birds, after we taught them some techniques.”

Normally, the AIR Program serves over 600 students in kindergarten through 8th grade. More than 30 students were reached this year and with full satisfaction. “Children never cease to amaze me with their eagerness and joy when learning something new,” Quick emphasizes.

Even though the artwork will not be displayed during the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival, art will still be exhibited by posting artwork digitally on the Friends of Malheur Facebook and website gallery.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge would like to thank the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (FOMR) for sponsoring the AIR Program and the Harney County schools for participating in the program and encouraging students to learn more about migratory birds and their habitat needs, and to experience a new creative art technique.