Shenandoah Valley of CaliforniaCharles Spinetta Winery and Wildlife Art Gallery
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Congratulations to Sherrie Russell Meline -- this is the most esteemed award for a wildlife artist. For orders, call the Charles Spinetta Wildlife Art Gallery at (209) 245-3384. One rare original and fifty framed prints of Sherrie's hang in our gallery.
September 15, 2005 Press Release from
_____For the second time in history, a woman has won the Federal Duck Stamp contest. Wildlife artist Sherrie Russell Meline, from Mt. Shasta, California, today won the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest in Memphis, Tennessee.

_____"Sherrie Russell Meline's beautiful rendition of Ross' Geese continues the Duck Stamp's tradition of outstanding wildlife art," said Matt Hogan, acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "More important, it will help us convey the importance of preserving our Nation's wetland habitat and the wildlife and communities it supports."

_____Russell Meline's painting of Ross' geese bested 232 other entries and will grace the 2006-2007 Federal Duck Stamp, which goes on sale July 1, 2006. The sale of Federal Duck Stamps raises approximately $25 million each year to fund waterfowl habitat acquisition for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Federal Duck Stamp Contest is sponsored each year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

_____This year was the first time in the stamp's 71-year history that the design was chosen outside of Washington, D.C. Along with its move to Memphis, the competition was co-hosted for the first time by Ducks Unlimited, Greater Memphis Arts Council, and the Memphis College of Art. The competition was surrounded by a week of public events at the Memphis College of Art, Bass Pro Shops, and the Peabody Hotel. The week culminates with the 2005 Ducks Unlimited Expo. 

_____"The Federal Duck Stamp contest is the nation's oldest and most prestigious wildlife art contest, and Memphis has welcomed us with open arms," Hogan said. "We want to thank our partners for making this such a successful event. Hopefully more people learned about the contest this year and will go out and purchase a Duck Stamp." 

_____"Congratulations to Sherrie Russell Meline," said Ducks Unlimited Executive Vice President Don Young. "The Duck Stamp story is a great story, and its value to all Americans in helping build the national wildlife refuge system, providing places for waterfowl hunters and others who enjoy the outdoors, and protecting millions of acres of wetlands and waterfowl habitat makes it one of the greatest conservation programs of all-time.

_____"And it's certainly one waterfowl hunters can be proud of. It's that story that makes this event so special," said Young. "DU and Memphis are proud to play a leadership role in growing the public's awareness of this remarkable conservation and art success story." 

_____All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry Duck Stamps. Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from the $15 Duck Stamp goes into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which purchases wetlands for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

_____Russell Meline has entered the Federal Duck Stamp competition 15 times over the last 25 years. 

_____"I am very honored and flattered," said Russell Meline. "I am completely honored to have been in the competition with the best artists out there, and I'm totally shocked that I won."

_____Russell Meline's winning artwork is a close-up of a Ross' goose in reeds with several flying birds in the background. She completed the work over a four month period. Russell Meline was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in fine arts. She began her art career doing three-dimensional art, but was inspired to paint waterfowl after she began collecting waterfowl decoys. 

_____While she studies mounts for the fine detail of her paintings, she also spends time watching live birds. "I watch the birds a lot and get to know them," said Russell Meline.

_____Her artwork has been used for more than 30 state waterfowl stamps, including Arizona, Texas, Nevada, and Iowa. Over the next four years, she will be working on a commission to paint waterfowl stamps for the 12 provinces of Canada.

_____Eligible species for this year's contest were the brant, northern shoveler, Ross' goose, ruddy duck and Canada goose.

_____The Federal Duck Stamp Contest is the nation's longest running federally-sponsored art competition. No cash prize is awarded, but winning can boost the professional reputation of even a previously unknown wildlife artist. Winning artists stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sale of limited editions of prints of their Duck Stamp designs.

_____There are more than 545 National Wildlife Refuges spread across all 50 states and U.S. territories. A valid Duck Stamp can be used for free admission to any refuge open to the public. Refuges offer unparalleled recreation opportunities, including hunting, fishing, birdwatching and photography. Duck Stamp dollars have been used to acquire land at hundreds of refuges in nearly every state in the nation.

_____The five judges for the competition were chosen by the Secretary of the Interior for their dedication to conservation and their professional expertise. They are:

* Ward Burton, winner of the 2002 Daytona 500 and founder of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation;
* Bill Crawford, 2005 Budweiser Conservationist of the Year;
* Steve Runnels, President and CEO of the American Birding Association;
* Ruby J. Bridgeforth, Postmaster/Metro manager in Memphis;
* Jane Lavino, Curator of Education for the National Wildlife Art Museum.

_____The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

_____With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature's most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.

Contacts at FWS: Nicholas Throckmorton, 202-208-5636. For more information, visit these links: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, Greater Memphis Arts Council, Memphis College of Art.

_____'Afterwords' from the artist: Five million acres of wetland habitat has been purchased through Federal Duck Stamp funds for inclusion into the National Wildlife Refuge System to ensure that this land will be protected and maintained for generations to come. 98% of every Federal Duck Stamp dollar goes directly into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. Purchasing a Federal Duck Stamp gives everyone a chance to participate in preserving our National Heritage.
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