An 8th grader from Valdez landed a big art award last month. Joslyn Unger was this year’s overall state winner of the Alaska Fish Heritage Contest™ and also placed first in her age group.

This annual contest is part of the award-winning Wildlife Forever Fish Art Contest, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and has support from Bass Pro Shops, USDA Forest Service, and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. The Forest Service Alaska Region sponsors the contest’s Alaska Fish Heritage Award.

Unger’s piece was titled “Clash of Red and Green.”

The contest is intended to foster interest in fish and aquatic conservation, and Alaska youth are encouraged to submit original artwork featuring salmon and the ways Alaskans interact with the fish.

Including Unger, first place winners in each age group were Shoshanah Stewart, a 6th grader from Kobuk, and Bo Bawtinhimer, a kindergartener from Moose Pass.

Second place winners for each age group were Westin LaBrake, a 2nd grader from Moose Pass, Quya Stewart, a 4th grader from Kobuk, and Desarose Stewart, a 9th grader from Kobuk. Third place winners were 2nd grader Matix Holmes from Ketchikan and 7th grader Isaak Stewart from Kobuk.


The contest highlights the cultural, economic, and recreational importance of commercial, sport and subsistence fishing. The fish species that was honored in this year’s contest was the sockeye or red salmon.

“I love seeing these remarkable art pieces showcasing Alaska’s salmon,” said Alaska Regional Forester Dave Schmid in the awards announcement. “I started my career as a fish biologist, and I feel confident that these young artists have certainly captured the spirit, persistence, and beauty of these amazing fish.”

The Alaskan winners will go on to compete in the national Wildlife Forever Fish Art™ Contest, with winners of that contest announced this month.