Get Outdoors

Get Outdoors

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has invited anyone with a camera to take part in its “big picture”—an image mosaic of a painting by Canadian wildlife artist Robert Bateman.

Michele Berger
Published: 07/23/2009


"Getting to Know" by Robert Bateman

You know those pictures comprised of thousands of other pictures? From far away, you see an orange Gerber daisy, but up close, you encounter thousands of individual pumpkin-, tangerine- and peach-colored images?

Working off of that idea, and the notion that all of nature’s a mosaic, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has invited anyone with a camera to take part in its “big picture”—an image mosaic of a painting by Canadian wildlife artist Robert Bateman—by submitting their nature photos.

Bateman’s image, of four children playing in a pond, is only a quarter covered despite the more than 500 pictures already submitted. Sending in a photo is free and simple, on USFWS’ “Let’s Go Outside” web site. Once you submit an image, you’ll receive an ID and a direct link to its placement on the painting.

This is part of USFWS’ push to get people—particularly children—to reconnect with their natural surroundings, something about which Bateman is a huge proponent. His “Get to Know Program,” in existence for almost a decade, aims to reverse what the artist considers a huge problem today: That children know thousands of corporate logos at a glance and almost none of the wildlife species that exist in their own backyards.

He created a contest that’s been running in Canada since 2000 that asks youth 19 and younger to get acquainted with their wild neighbors and express their experiences in paintings, photos or writing. This September, the contest will launch in California for the first time, with an original commemorative work by Bateman that features generations—grandparents to children—getting to know nature. (For full contest rules, check the Get to Know Program site starting on August 1). Winners are chosen based on their artistic merit and the type of experience the artist had.

There’s still plenty of summertime left to participate in both of these events—or just to get outside. When experiencing your wild neighbors, remember the following etiquette from USFWS:

  • - Respect the animals and nature
  • - Learn patterns of animal behavior
  • - Don’t interfere with animal life cycles
  • - Move away if an animal becomes visibly stressed or upset
  • - Stay on marked trails
  • - Treat others courteously
  • - Report inappropriate behavior