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Each year, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge coordinates with area schools on art and natural resource education in association with the Friends of Malheur NWR and the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. The following Youth Art Programs combine science and art to expand student’s understanding of bird species and habitat while building creative skills and artistic masterpieces.


Art and Nature for a New Approach to Exploring Creativity and Science

The Art in Residence (AiR) Program is designed to combine art and science to teach youth about migratory birds and their habitat needs while learning new creative art techniques. The AiR Program encourages students in kindergarten through 5th grade to observe, understand, and ultimately share what they have learned about migratory bird conservation through art.

Your Support of the Program: The first AiR Program was developed by Malheur National Wildlife Refuge with the goal to teach greater awareness of, and increase appreciation for, natural resources by pairing science and visual arts. Each year your Harney County Migratory Bird Festival Membership dues go to support this program reaching every elementary school classroom in Harney County. More than 600 students participate and their wildlife art is put on display at local businesses during the festival. You can also see the work of our students on the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival and Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Facebook and its website gallery pages.

The AiR Program is supported by the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife

Refuge through fundraising. Your support of the AiR Program can be

demonstrated by contacting the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

for more information in supporting young artists and migratory bird conservation.

Meet our 2022 Artist! Tory Schmidt grew up right here in Harney County.
After completing an Architecture degree at Montana State University, she brought
her love of nature, passion for art, and her family back to her hometown. Starting

multiple businesses and being involved in her community is very important

to Tory. She feels that by working with a variety of organizations and a

myriad of people in her community, she can use her art and creative

problem solving skills to make a better world. Tory also served area youth

as our AiR in 2021.


Migratory Birds and Art Come Together

​The Youth Wildlife Art Contest encourages students in kindergarten through high school
to observe, understand, and ultimately share what they have learned about migratory
birds. By creating a unique art entry for the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival, the
students are provided an opportunity to artistically express their knowledge of the
diversity, interdependence, and beauty of wildlife. The art contest suggests educators,
supervising adults, and students to use curriculum guides to direct their exploration and
investigation of migratory birds and their habitat needs, and the principles of visual art design.

​At this level, students are judged in four groups according to grade level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Contest scholarships will be awarded to the top three winners in each group, sponsored through the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. All entries will be displayed during the festival and the winning art will be posted digitally on the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival and the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Facebook and its website gallery pages.



​Only one entry per youth, and entry forms are required. Submission guidelines are available by emailing Artwork submitted for the youth art contest will be displayed at Chamber of Commerce Community Building from April 22-24, 2022, and anyone can come vote on their favorite pieces.  

​ART CLASSES AVAILABLE! To help with the youth art contest, art classes are being offered for students. Local artist Andrea Grigg will walk through on how to draw and paint birds on canvas. Students will be able to learn how to paint a short-eared owl, a mountain bluebird, or a greater sandhill crane. During the art classes, wildlife activities will be given during the breaks.  


Art classes are free for students and $20.00 for non-students and will be held:

– April 8, 5 to 8 p.m. – Short-eared owl

– April 15, 5 to 8 p.m. – Mountain bluebird

– April 16, 2 to 5 p.m. – Sandhill crane

at the Chamber of Commerce Community Building. Supplies and materials are provided,
but participants must register by emailing  **Artwork completed at the
April 16 class may be submitted to the art contest on this date.**

About the artist:  Andrea Grigg resides in beautiful Hines, Oregon. She enjoys painting with
watercolors and acrylics, reading books to kids, and teaching painting classes to adults and kids.
She has taught beginning acrylic painting classes for The Soda District, The Frontier Art Center,
and Kids’ Club.  She loves all the natural beauty and wildlife to be seen in Harney County.  If she
could choose any superpowers, they would be flight, breathing underwater, and talking to animals.

Together, the AIR Program and Youth Wildlife Art Contest:

  • Foster Awareness of wildlife habitat and its importance for bird migrations.
  • Encourage learning about wildlife and bird species characteristics to spark curiosity about the natural world.
  • Develop the skill of close observation for scientific and artistic purposes.
  • Encourage creative experimentation.
  • Provide a rich artistic and educational experience for Harney County students.
  • Generate artwork for the festival’s student art exhibit in a way that is inclusive.
  • Connect Harney County youth to their community and beyond be showcasing their work through the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival