Cario student Castiller takes first at Junior Duck Stamp competition

Samantha Castiller’s winning entry in the contest.

There are a lot of talented young artists in South Carolina, particularly the Lowcountry. That was evident after recently serving as one of five judges for the 2015 South Carolina Junior Duck Stamp Contest. More than 300 students in grades K-12 entered the contest sponsored by South Carolina Ducks Unlimited and the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition.

“Best of Show” honors went to Samantha Castiller, a 13-year-old seventh-grader at Cario Middle School in Mount Pleasant, with a mixed media drawing of a bluebill duck.

After whittling the contest down to the top three in each age group (K-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12), Castiller’s artwork was selected. It will go on to represent South Carolina in the 2015 National Junior Duck Stamp Contest. Stamps of the winning entry in that contest will be sold by the U.S. Postal Service and Amplex Corporation for $5 each.

Castiller, the daughter of Simone Demass and Ed Castiller of Mount Pleasant, is a student of Cario visual arts teacher Stefani Timmerman, whose students have performed extremely well in the Junior Duck Stamp contest and other competitions. Castiller also has received instruction and been mentored by Caitlyn Brunson, a Wando and Savannah College of Art and Design graduate.

“I wanted to pick a duck with a ‘personality.’ Mrs. Timmerman gives us literature on different ducks and … I knew it was the one I wanted to draw,” Castiller said. “Winning the Junior Duck Stamp contest was very exciting. It was very challenging to create the feathery texture on my duck. The competition has made me more interested in wildlife conservation and inspired me to continue working on my talent.”

Castiller has had six first-place finishes in the Mount Pleasant Waterworks poster contest and also finished first in her age group in the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Reel Art contest. She volunteers with her mother at the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw and also plays soccer.

Timmerman, who holds a BA in art studio and MAT in art education from the University of South Carolina, created the advanced art class at Cario after noticing that some students were requesting more art instruction. Students must apply to be accepted and attend the class year-round. She takes seven to 10 students per grade level. They must compete in at least five competitions per year.

“They have deadlines and work overtime to meet them,” she said.

If they take the general art class or qualify for the advanced instruction, you can bet their work will be recognized.

Cario students have taken top honors at the Coastal Carolina Fair, have placed in the Festival of Lights and in the Carolina Panthers Spirit Rock competitions. At the 2015 DNR Reel Art competition, Cario students took 11 of the 16 spots in their age categories.

Cario advanced and general art students have received multiple top placements in the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition’s photography and poetry competitions the past two years and have placed in the National State Fish Art competition sponsored by Wildlife Forever. Ino Liu placed in the top 10 for People’s Choice and first in his age group.

Several years ago, the students designed Rain Barrels for Seewee Foundation Oysters, Music and Wildlife in Awendaw. They auctioned off these rain barrels and all proceeds went to preserve wildlife in the Cape Romain National Forest.

All winning artwork will be on display for the month of February at the Charleston County Public Library on Calhoun Street.

Make it a point to drop by and admire our talented artists.