In February 2015, SCCF was one of five organizations presented a framed paintbrush that was once used by well-known political cartoonist and conservationist J.N. "Ding" Darling.
Ding was pivotal to preserving land on Sanibel, and the island's national wildlife refuge is named after him.
The brushes were given to SCCF and other organizations by Sam Koltinsky, a filmmaker who produced a documentary about Ding Darling's life, and was given the brushes by Darling's grandson, Kip Koss. In awarding the brushes, Koltinsky said, "gifting of these brushes signifies extraordinary stewardship of the land and the wise use of resources. It is with great honor to be able to present this brush in remembrance of both Darling's and Koss's legacies."
SCCF "Ding" Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Award
With the brush came the establishment of SCCF's annual environmental art award called "Brush of Excellence."
Since 2015, SCCF has selected a small committee to identify and select a candidate for the honor of Brush of Excellence. The selection is based on one or more of the following criteria:
- Their work as an artist has helped to further environmental causes
- Their work is informed by, captures, or addresses environmental subject matter
- The work inspires us to see our connection to nature
The SCCF “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Award is a continuing tribute to J.N. “Ding” Darling’s legacy and an annually renewing recognition of environmental artists following in Darling’s footsteps. This program aims to highlight artists who bring exemplary awareness to the natural world and highlight the uniqueness of Sanibel.
2023: Andrew West for his nature photography and videography
2021: Marcus Thomas for his shorebird paintings
2019: Sallie Rich for her nature photography
2018: Ikki Matsumoto for his paintings and printmakings
2017: Jim Sprankle for his carving of a belted kingfisher
2016: Clyde Butcher for his iconic Everglades photography
2015: Jaye Boswell for her nature-based art