History of State-Fish Art

The Wildlife Forever STATE-FISH ART Contest was inspired by a bright fifth-grader from Minnesota named Kate Di Leo and her father Sal in March of 1997.

While doing a research project on Minnesota’s State-Fish, they discovered that very little information existed on all the different State-Fish in the U.S. They decided an event should be created that educated kids, teachers, and parents on aquatics resources, conservation, and each state’s State-Fish.

The Wildlife Forever STATE-FISH ART Contest was born … and the rest is history!

Joshua Joint | Best of Show Winner 2004
Nevada Miller | Best of Show Winner 1999

The first contest was held in 1999. Several hundreds pieces of fish art were received from 40 states. Each piece of artwork was accompanied by an essay about the artist’s state-fish.

Nevada Miller from North Dakota was the 1999 Best of Show winner with his northern pike.
Nevada Smith Best of Show 1999 State-Fish Art

Over a decade later, thousands of children participate each year. The rules were broadened to allow children to select any official state-fish to illustrate and the essay requirement continues to this day.

Best of Show Winner 2016
Matt Rudolph | Best of Show Winner 2001
Best of Show Winner 2015

Each year’s winners are honored at the STATE-FISH ART EXPO. The first ten were held at the Mall of America in Bloomington,  Minnesota.

The EXPO became a traveling event and was hosted in 2010 and 2011 at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, Texas. Our host in 2012 was Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at the Whit Stephens Central Arkansas Nature Center and Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 2013 we were at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry, Georgia. Our Title Sponsor, FLW, will be hosting our EXPO in 2014 at the Forest Wood CUP in Columbia, South Carolina.  This will be a first and a GREAT time at the World Bass Fishing Championship August 15-17!!!