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SCCF J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling Brush of Excellence Winner announced

By Staff | Dec 19, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED From left, Andrea Koss, Sallie Rich and Sandy Gross at the SCCF Annual Meeting on Dec. 10.

Nature photographer Sallie Rich received the 5th Annual SCCF J.N. “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Award on Dec. 10 at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s annual meeting.

“I enjoy taking all my pictures, being outside and living here, so thank you to the SCCF for all the work you do to preserve it for our families and posterity,” she said. “We all love it and every single time our family comes back, they don’t want anything to change, so thank you for keeping it so much the same and natural.”

Recognizing her long-standing contributions in capturing the natural beauty of the islands through photography, the SCCF award committee selected Rich’s entry from a series titled, “The Courtship of Great Blue Herons.”

Brush of Excellence Committee Chair and SCCF Board Member Sandy Gross presented the award.

“This year, our prize recipient spoke to 29 middle-schoolers at Sanibel School about her work, her process and her relationship with photography accompanied by a video of the entire sequence of her photographs of the courtship of the great blue heron,” she said. “She is inspiring a future generation of conservationists.”

A self-taught photographer, Rich started taking photos in 1937 with her father’s box camera that she still owns. Before moving with her husband to Captiva in 1988, they raised three children in Baltimore and she enjoyed various photographic opportunities, including time ashore on the Azores and Madiera Islands, hiking in Europe and Scandinavia and a 10-week camping trip in the American West.

At the age of 90, Rich has practiced yoga for 61 years to which she credits a creative, long and productive life. The true love of her photography career became the natural beauty and wildlife of Sanibel and Captiva over the past few decades.

“To live within minutes of the J. N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge has been the gift of a lifetime,” she said. “My wish is that all people will follow their passion to find their own joy as I find mine in looking through the camera lens.”

Rich also was presented with an honorarium provided by Andrea Koss in memory of her husband Kip, Darling’s grandson and torchbearer. The Brush of Excellence award is a tribute to Darling, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, artist and conservation champion who had a Captiva winter home.

A resident of Shell Point, Rich is attached to saving habitat for wildlife.

“For more than one-million years, nature provided wilderness for life on Earth. Now, it is for us to resolve to protect and increase what nature has given us,” she wrote in her 2019 book, “The Courtship of Great Blue Herons.”

Prior honorees of the Brush of Excellence include Jaye Boswell, Clyde Butcher, Jim Sprankle and Ikki Matsumoto.

Works of art by all five Brush of Excellence artists will be on exhibit Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon in the Bailey home at SCCF’s Bailey Homestead Preserve, at 1300 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, through April. The exhibit will be closed from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1 for the holidays.