Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition

2020 Crane-Inspired Creative Arts Contest

2020 Crane-inspired Creative Arts Contest

The Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition promotes the conservation and protection of Greater Sandhill Cranes and their habitat in Colorado.  As part of our effort to raise awareness of Sandhill Cranes among the younger generation, we sponsor the Crane-inspired Creative Arts Contest. High school seniors in Routt and Moffat counties are invited to submit entries in 3 categories:

  • Category 1 is essay or story (750-1500 words)
  • Category 2 is poetry (a group of 3 poems)
  • Category 3 is any other creative arts media

The work has to be original and accurately reflect the physical characteristics, behavior and habitat of our Greater Sandhill Cranes. 

Winners are announced at the senior awards ceremony at each high school. The first-place winter in each category is awarded a $1,500 scholarship. In addition, a $500 Honorable Mention scholarship is awarded to a participant from any of the three categories.

We hope you enjoy all of the entries from this year’s Crane-inspired Creative Arts Contest.


Marlyn Arellano

Marlyn Arellano


Digital Art

Liz Ruzicka
When They Take Flight

Growing up in the Riverside neighborhood of Steamboat Springs, my affinity for sandhill cranes and wetland habitat has deep roots. My tiny house on Honeysuckle Lane is oddly situated between two swaths of wetland marshes. Some people build fences of wood and metal links to mark their property. Not me. I grew up with a fence of cattails. Always a light sleeper, I begged my parents to let me go outside and watch the birds in the early morning hours. After promises of standing a safe distance from the wetlands, my parents finally agreed. In my pajamas and muck boots, I would cross the dewy grass of my front lawn and stand at the boundary between settlement and nature, and I would listen. Each day, a symphony of life played its primal concert for me. Until one morning, the symphony played its cymbals. A booming, rattling bugle permeated the air, a prelude to flight. Seconds later, I watched the graceful ascent of two massive sandhill cranes. Necks elongated, wings outstretched, the cranes burst in soaring synchronicity.

Daniel Caddy

Daniel Caddy

The Crane of Pebble Beach


Hayden Short

“Misty Sky”
Cranes migrating far
The Rocky Mountains calling
Misty sky above

Bright blue skies shining, empty space and watery mist.
The morning dew stuck to blades of green below feet.
Carefully they step, quietly they step.
Noises sprout from all directions.
At first, a distant commotion.
Next, a flock of noise.
Peculiar aviation flies above heads.
Sandhill Cranes.

“I Want to See The Cranes”
“I want to go see the cranes,” said the girl.
Mother said, “oh come, baby girl, let us go see the cranes.”
So she took her to see the cranes fly above,
Migrating to a happier place.
“I want to go see the cranes,” said the boy.
Father said, “oh come, my sweet boy, let us go see the cranes.”
So he took him to see the cranes fly above,
Migrating to a safer place.
“I want to go see the cranes,” said the child
The family said, “the cranes will not arrive for a long, long while.”
So he wept and cried out for the cranes,
Who were in a happier, safer place.

Reece Underhill

Reece Underhill

Cranes of Colorado

Digital Art

Alison Famulare
The Beauty of Simplicity- Living Like a Sandhill Crane

I grew up with the sandhill cranes. Every year come springtime, for as long as I can remember, I squished my nose up to the car window to see if my beloved cranes had arrived from their long journey from the south into their summer residence- the pond next to my neighborhood. Occasionally, we would pull over and watch them stride peacefully around the marsh, their beauty overcoming and perfecting the murky, muddy environment that surrounded them. I remember sitting on the school bus with my neighborhood friends and we would all come together and name the two cranes that we grew up watching every springtime. One year their names were Bob and Betty, and the next year it would be something different. At that age, we hadn’t realized that we had been watching the same two cranes, and if their time had come to fly into heaven, the generations after them. 

Bailey Iacovetto

Bailey Iacovetto

Till the Cranes Come Home


Joseph A. Pederson
Behold the Cranes

How do these fowls with giant legs 
Glide stop the blowing winds
Or touch the bitter blue spring sky
And honk and call as they pass by
When do the dance when do they sing
Upon the banks with gentle wing
Ore the Yampa valley again
A swoop of sandhill cranes

Numerous was this noble sedge
Gathering on the river’s edge
Arising in the morning mist
They jump and twirl but never kiss
Soaking in the glamorous Ray’s
About the hills on sunny days
Magnificent in all their ways
This siege of sandhill cranes

Alas the days are moving forth 
No more meetings in the growth
Amid the rushes and the rows
Below the bright sun’s passionate glows
This dance of birds both proud and fair
Spread their wings into the air
Under the Great God’s marvelous care
Went these Greater Sandhill Cranes

Lauren Ehrlich

Majestic Cranes in the Valley


MaKala Herndon

I am the Sandhill crane
The clouds darken the sky
As I soar through them
I start my descent
My giant wings slice the surrounding air
Frightened fish dart away as I land near the pond
I am the Sandhill crane
My beady eyes reflect upon the water
Atop my head, my bright red mark
Illuminates my beauty
It scares off my prey
Yet I chase them across the marsh
I am the Sandhill crane
I rarely travel alone
My family hunts alongside me
The pad like noise of my chicks’ palmate follows me
Someday they will be just like me
The prowling hunter and symbol of beauty
I am the Sandhill crane

Mr. Crane and I
Mr. Crane and I go a ways back
He saved me from a snake attack
He is taller than me for I am a frog
His legs can slice through fog
Mr. Crane prowls through the marsh
All the other animals deem him harsh
But not I, for we go a ways back
He’s the friend who brings everything I lack
Although I can not fly
He never leaves me for the sky
Although he can not hop
He has a magnificent red crown on top
Together we hunt for bugs
We both are slow and patient, you can call us slugs
Together we go a ways back
Both halves of a friendship never slack

He, the Crane Stays Behind
The brisk winds glide through the tallgrass,
Numerous constructions of cranes raise their heads.
Abrupt zigs zags patterns interrupt the peaceful rest of the birds,
They simultaneously rise and begin to prepare for flight.

All is lightened as the flock levitated to the sky,
One, he, stayed behind from consumed fear of the unknown.
Crane after crane takes to the sky to fly,
Left behind he worries if he’ll die alone.

The temperatures decrease in abrupt patterns,
The construction in the South wonders why he needed to stay.
In his eyes he sees potential in new surroundings,
Great dangers and misconceptions will cause his later death.

It didn’t take long for he was alone in the cold,
Trying to rediscover himself he loses who he already was.
The loneliness makes him crawl in his skin, his feathers, his heart, his soul,
He realized he needed help from his peers to be okay.

We can all walk this path of life by ourselves,
But what do we do when we lose our footing?
Connections and relationships keep us steady,
As the cold surrounds us and takes us away from life.

He the crane shows power and independence,
Lack of communication and priceless connections caused his fall.
The cold represents uncertainty and fear,
The crane demonstrates hope and sanity.

Don’t fly alone,
The cold is easier to get you alone than with supportive peers.
Find your construction and find yourself again,
In the long run you’ll be thankful you did.

Remy St. Pierre

Remy St. Pierre

City Crane


Jadyn Ellis
The Shot Heard ‘Round the… Cereal Field

The gray, dark brown, and orange hues of feathers encompassed the sky and swallowed the San Luis Valley in a state of momentary bliss. The majestic soaring of the birds and their distinct red forehead caught the eyes of those awaiting the bird’s arrival. They ascended to the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge and landed in the late afternoon, too late to travel to surrounding farm fields for cereal grains and other such crops, so they decided to bunker in the refuge until morning.

The flock set out for farmlands in the early morning, searching for prime lands with fields of grains and marshes or slow-moving water: the ultimate sandhill crane habitat. What was special about this migration was that young Leroy was along for the trip. This was his first migration season and had so much to learn and experience. Leroy, his mother, and the rest of the flock landed in the shallow waters of a marsh central to a cereal field. Leroy gazed at the vast influx of sandhill cranes packing into every square inch of the shallow waters. A group of about 15 cranes jumped at the opportunity of bounteous cereal grains and began feasting on the nutritious grains. Leroy was absolutely starving from the long flight from New Mexico and felt his stomach grumble beneath him. He then followed the role-model-birds who were devouring the grains.

Sherese Ebaugh

Sherese Ebaugh

The Bird Who Brings the Colors to the Rockies


Lida Most
Untitled Essay

This is an interesting scholarship that really spoke to me because I
appreciated that I do not have to write about myself but instead about my
experiences with a unique and wonderful bird. I live in the rocky
mountains of colorado in a ski town called Steamboat Springs. Some
neighborhoods have an abundance of moose and others have lots of
bear visits but in my neighborhood, particularly where I live, attracts an
abundance of beautiful cranes annually. I live west of town where the
Sandhill Crane population is abundant. At times, I would be lucky enough
for them to land close to my property. I have always been fascinated by
the way they would walk because it appears they have no impact on the
surface of the earth compared to other living animals like dogs or horses
that always leave a large imprint. I can hear their unique call from inside
my home.

Nicole Currie

Nicole Currie



Sloan Russell

Sloan Russell

The Call


Architects & Interior Designers

Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition

Gallery 89

Glenna O Gallery

Holidays in the Rockies

Jace Romick Gallery

Off the Beaten Path

Pine Moon Fine Art

Riverwalk Collective

Solar Flare Glasswork & Design

Squire Studios

Steamboat Art Museum

Steamboat Creates Artist Members

Steamboat Springs Writers Group

Susan Schiesser Memorial Exhibition

Tread of Pioneers Museum

W Gallery

West Side Creatives

Wild Horse Gallery