HJ/EDMay 1, 2006

Rachael Balsaitis ranks high in duck stamp competition

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Rachael Balsaitis, a 15-year-old from Cokato, won Best of Show and first place out of 1, 200 entries in the Minnesota Junior Duck Stamp Competition, and placed in the top 10 of the national competition April 20.

Balsaitis, a home school student, chose to illustrate a pair of hooded Mergansers with color pencils. She was presented her award April 22 at the 12th annual recognition and award ceremony at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The national competition was in Washington DC.

The stamp competition is sponsored by the United States Department of the Interior, fish and wildlife service.

Balsaitis is the daughter of Jackie Jeffery and Brian Balsaitis. She has two younger brothers and a younger sister and lives northwest of Cokato.

Balsaitis intends to be an illustrator and wildlife artist when she finishes school, she said. She would like to attend either Minnesota Arts and Design College or the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Balsaitis said those interested in the stamp competition were given a list of duck and goose species from which to choose for their illustration. Color pencils are her favorite medium, “versus paint, which can get very messy,” she said.

Also, Balsaitis studied the winning art work from previous years and incorporated what she liked into her design of the hooded Mergansers, she said. She noticed that many of the first, second, third place winners, as well as honorable mention winners, used color pencil also, Balsaitis said.

Balsaitis also won first place for an owl drawing through the Minnesota Deer Hunters’ Association.

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