The founding of SCCF was directly related to J.N. “Ding” Darling, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, artist and champion of conservation who had a winter home on Captiva Island. Following his death in 1962, his friends and admirers formed the J.N. “Ding” Darling Foundation, which led the efforts to establish the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. When the Refuge was completed in 1967, island members of the Darling Foundation turned their attention to land acquisition and conservation work yet to be tackled on the sanctuary islands of Sanibel and Captiva. Their focused efforts resulted in the incorporation of SCCF the same year.
Since that time, Darling’s grandson, Christopher “Kip” Koss, has kept the Darling flame burning, in part by endowing the SCCF “Ding” Darling Conservation Education Fund to perpetuate the awareness of Darling’s commitment to conservation. The SCCF “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Program provides a continuing tribute to J.N. “Ding” Darling’s legacy and an annually renewing recognition of environmental artists who have contributed to the conservation of Florida.
The Brush of Excellence Committee identifies criteria and candidates for selecting the Prize Recipient each year. It is not a competition, but rather a single invitation extended to the chosen artist to accept the honor of following in Ding's footsteps. The SCCF “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Program will provide a constant reminder of J.N. “Ding” Darling’s legacy and an annually renewing recognition of environmental artists following in his footsteps.
2019: Ikki Matsumoto
2018: Jim Sprankle
2017: Clyde Butcher
2016: Jaye Boswell
The annual Environmental Artist of the Year/Prize Recipient will be chosen based on one or more of the following criteria:
• Their career as an artist has helped to further environmental causes
• Their work is informed by/captures/addresses environmental subject matter
• Their work inspires us to see our connection to Nature
• The artist has a history of philanthropic in-kind support for environmental causes
• The artist has a relationship to Sanibel and Captiva, but does not necessarily have to be an island resident
• The artist has a relationship with SCCF
Artists of any media will be considered.