New River Gorge National Park and Preserve - NPS

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Youth Arts in the Parks

Appalachian Spring Wildflower Art Contest

2023 Contest Overview and Rules

What This Program Is All About:

Youth Arts in the Parks (YAP) is a student competition that celebrates ecology through art! Through this program and the April art exhibit at Tamarack Marketplace and online, students have the opportunity as community leaders to raise awareness of Appalachia’s natural diversity and parks. Their works inspire community connections to local ecology and outdoor stewardship. Participants may also have the opportunity to explore the business of art and its role in economic development.

The Youth Arts in the Parks program is part of spring nature event that celebrates the southern West Virginia’s diverse ecology. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, Tamarack Marketplace, and several West Virginia state parks partners to host this public event in April and May. This year's festivities will feature new programs and tips to help each of us discover more nature outdoors and online.

2023 Contest Rules:

Who can enter: All students in grades K through 12 from Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, or Summers Counties. Students do not have to enter through their school.

Medium: All entries must be an original work of art in a two-dimensional format, 8" x 10" in size (see details in specific entry categories below). Entry may be created in any art medium type (pencil, ink, acrylic, oil, glass, charcoal, pastel, watercolor, clay, paper, wood, etc.). Three-dimensional art will not be accepted in the 2023 contest year. 2023: computer generated art will ONLY be accepted in the 2023 Digital Critter Challenge (see details below).

Wildflower/Wildlife species contest checklist and reference: The wildflower/s art depicted MUST be a species from the wildflower contest checklist below. Digital Art Critter Challenge entries MUST be a species form the wildlife contest checklist below. Some wildflower photo references are available online, though photos should not be traced or copied.  

Entry categories, size, and quantity: Students can enter in two categories, one piece in the Wildflower Art category and/or one piece in the Digital Art Critter Challenge category. Here are the details for each entry category:


2023 Wildflower Art Entry (must be art created by hand)

  • Quantity: Each student can enter one piece in this individual art category. 
  • Size: Entry must be two-dimensional art size 8" x 10" ONLY, portrait or landscape in orientation. Do NOT frame or mat art. Entry must not require assembly. Entry must fit completely into a non-padded 9½"x 12" envelope, should return of exhibit art by mail be necessary after the spring exhibit.
  • Art subject: Entry MUST be inspired by a native blooming Appalachian wildflower from the contest wildflower checklist in this category description. If the art includes a background, it should be representative of the plant’s natural habitat (local forest, river edge, or field) and in the appropriate blooming season. Multiple plants may be included in the piece, but all blooms must be from the contest list. The blossoms should be the focal point of the art, though appropriate wildlife from the same habitat may be included in the piece. It is inappropriate for contest entries to include wildflowers in a pot, picked bouquets, flowers on a bridge or roadway, or with domestic animals. Please remember that a contest goal is to teach people about the region's diverse natural ecology through art. See wildflower species contest checklist at Appalachian Spring Wildflower Art Contest Species Checklist - New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).

2023 Digital Art Critter Challenge entry (must be art created on a computer)

Art in this category MUST be created on a computer. Photographs can be incorporated into the art, but entry cannot be a stand-alone photo image. This is an art contest, NOT a photography contest. This challenge will help others learn more about regional wildlife through art.

  • Quantity: Each student can enter one piece in this individual art category.  
  • Size: Entry must be two-dimensional digital art size 8" x 10" ONLY, portrait or landscape in orientation. Entry file must be in JPG file format and be no smaller size than 1600 x 1200 pixels. 
  • Art subject: Entry MUST be inspired by a creature that lives in the New River Gorge from the attached contest critter checklist. If the art includes a background, it should represent the creature’s natural habitat (local forest, field, or river). The creature should be the focal point of the art, though appropriate plants from the same habitat may be included in the piece. It is inappropriate for contest entries to include humans interacting with or handling animals. Creatures should not be depicted in a classic human setting, like on a road, in a house or car, on a porch, or at a picnic table. Please remember that a contest goal is to teach people about the region's diverse natural ecology and the wildlife that lives here through art.  Digital Critter Challenge Checklist - New River Gorge National Park & Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

Dates and Deadlines:

  • Image submission window: December 1, 2022 - February 8, 2023
  • Decision notification (sent via email): February 24, 2023
  • Delivery deadline for accepted work: March 15, 2023 
  • Exhibit run:
  • ·  Physical exhibit at Tamarack's theater vestibule: April 2 - May 7, 2023
  • ·  Online exhibit at www.nps.gov: April 4, 2023
  • ·  Exhibit and public sale of top five 2023 Best in Show pieces, part of spring adult gallery exhibition at Tamarack Marketplace's David L. Dickirson Fine Art Gallery: May 6 - June 14, 2023
  • Art pick up deadline (does not include five Best in Show art): May 12 - 31, 2023 (two art pick up locations). Art not picked up during this date window or special arrangements made for art pick up will be forfeited. 

How Students Enter Contest:

Read and follow all contest rules or be subject to entry disqualification.

  • Sign in or create a FREE account on the online contest entry platform through Submittable. Link to the contest entry platform with this QR-code (right) or at http://www.nps.gov/neri/youth-arts-in-the-parks.htm. 
  • Each entry must be submitted separately. Enter name and contact information in the Submittable text boxes.
  • Upload image of your contest entry. Multiple images of each entry are permissible for the purpose of showing details of art. Image submissions must be in .JPEG format. Image resolution should be at least 300 dpi. One entry per student can be entered separately in each category. Please title your entry Wildflower or Critter_grade_Lastname_Title in accordance with that specific entry category (EXAMPLES: wildflower_6_Smith_StarFlower; critter_Davis_1_River-Otter). 
  • Be sure to include art title, medium, and brief description in the corresponding Submittable text boxes. 
  • You will receive a confirmation email from the Submittable service when your application has been received. If you do not receive a confirmation of receipt, please contact the contest coordinator at jodi_french-burr@nps.gov.

Judging and Awards:

  • Judging criteria: Art entries must be a creative rendering of an Appalachian spring wildflower/s (MUST be a species from the contest checklist). Works will be judged on the basis of original design, composition, artistic technique, and its representation of a wildflower species.
  • Judging process: Participants will be notified of contest winners via email by February 24, 2023.  
  •      Wildflower art entry category will be judged first at the county level, a jury panel selecting the top five entries from each grade group (K - 2, 3 - 5, 6 - 8, and 9 - 12) in each participating county. These 80 selected wildflower pieces will be included in the contest exhibit. The art selected for this exhibit in this category will also go through a second jury by grade group to pick the top five Best in Show contest entries overall.
  •      Digital Critters Challenge entry category will be judged overall with 20 critter pieces selected for this exhibit, five from each grade group. The art selected from this category will be highlighted as a special teaching element in this exhibit and are not eligible for the overall Best in Show selection.
  • Display and certificates for winning entries: All contest artwork juried into the 2023 contest exhibit will be on public display at Tamarack April 2 - May 7, 2023, as well as online at www.nps.gov/neri. Contest winners will be invited to a special artist recognition ceremony and reception at Tamarack in April. The five Best in Show overall artists will be announced at this ceremony.
  •      Best in Show overall artists: the five pieces selected in the wildflower entry category as Best in Show overall will be displayed and for public sale at Tamarack’s David L. Dickirson Fine Art Gallery spring invitational exhibition May 6 - June 14, 2023. These five youth works will be featured alongside the works of adult Tamarack artists. Tamarack staff will assist the top five artists and their families to decide on an appropriate purchase price for their artwork. If any of these five pieces are purchased, 60% of the purchase price will be paid to the individual artist, while 40% will go to Tamarack. If the work is not purchased, the artwork will be returned to the artist after the completion of this exhibit. 


Note to teachers:

WV content connection: This program is also designed to help teachers meet elements of West Virginia Education Content Standards and Objectives. Related subjects can be found at http://wvde.us. Use this website to search for teacher resources with such key words as biology, business, career, design, environment, habitat, nature, and plants. Such content connections can be used to further your students’ learning experiences through this contest - even through virtual learning elements.


Additional Questions: 

Contact contest coordinator by email (best) at jodi_french-burr@nps.gov or 304-465-2632.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve - NPS