National Fossil Day   Explore Nature
National Park Service
US Department of the Interior

National Fossil Day 2016: Art and Photography Contest

"Your favorite fossil from a National Park"

NFD Sketch
Submit your National Fossil Day artwork or photograph to the 2016 contest.

About the Contest

In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial this year, the theme for the National Fossil Day 2016 Art and Photography Contest is, Your favorite fossil from a National Park.

Think of the fossils you've seen from National Parks. More than 260 units of the National Park Service have fossils of some kind. There are records of everything from microscopic plankton to giant dinosaurs. They inhabited places as diverse as primeval forests, warm tropical seas, lakes near active volcanoes, and "seas" of sand dunes that resembled the Sahara.

Maybe you've seen tracks of dinosaurs and other animals in the rock at one of the parks of the Four Corners area. Maybe you're partial to the trees of Petrified Forest, the dinosaurs of the quarry wall at Dinosaur, the horses of Hagerman Fossil Beds, or the delicate insects of Florissant. Maybe you've seen skeletons from Badlands or fish from Fossil Butte in a museum, or perhaps you’ve come across fossil shells while exploring Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Historical Park or Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, or even noticed a fossil coral in polished building stone at a historic site. Out of all of these, can you choose just one as your favorite? It might be challenging, but we'd love to see what you come up with!

Click here to download the art contest entry form. Entries must be received by Wednesday October 5th, 2016.

Contest Guidelines

Who can enter?

The contest is open to any U.S. resident of any age. Entries will be judged by a panel consisting of National Fossil Day partners and paleontologists.

What should my artwork include?

Your artwork or photograph should focus on the contest theme "Favorite National Park Fossil". Use the information above and the questions below to get started!

The artwork can be in the form of a sketch, painting, watercolor, photograph (black/white or color), or computer-generated image. All artwork must be 2D (two dimensional) and flat.

Be sure to include a sentence or two on your submission form describing your choice and explaining why it is your favorite.

Questions to help you get started...

  • What makes the fossil special to you?
  • What kind of message would a fossil write to you?
  • How do you picture the fossil? Do you imagine it as a living thing? Did you see it in a visitor center or museum? Or did you come across it while hiking or camping?
  • If you draw it in life, what do its surroundings look like?
  • If it is in a museum, or exposed in place like the quarry wall at Dinosaur, what did the work to excavate it look like?
  • If it’s something you saw in the outdoors, what were you doing and what did the area look like?

How large should the artwork be?

All artwork should be able to fit inside a 13"x 17" envelope or smaller, or if submitting a digital photograph, the image should be no larger than 5 Mb.

What do I need to submit?

A valid submission will contain the following information:

  1. An original copy of the artwork. Each piece must be original, authentic, unpublished, the sole property of the entrant, and not previously submitted in any other contest. Make sure to include a sentence or two on your submission form (or on your artwork) explaining from who/when/where the postcard was sent. In a close decision, your description could help move you up.
  2. Your personal information, printed on either the back of your artwork or on a separate sheet attached to your artwork:

    First and last name (as it appears on your entry form)
    Mailing address
    Phone number
    E-mail address

  3. A completed and signed entry form is required. Print out the entry form here and send it to us when you send your artwork. Entries cannot be accepted without a signed entry form (if under 18, a parent, guardian, or teacher must sign).
  4. Optional - If you would like to submit a digital photograph, send your personal information, along with your attached photo to with the subject line: NFD 2015 PHOTO CONTEST. You must also mail (or attach) a signed entry form.
  5. All mailed artwork and entry forms must be sent to:

    National Fossil Day 2015 Art Contest
    American Geosciences Institute
    4220 King Street
    Alexandria, VA 22302-1502

If you have any problems or questions regarding the art contest, please contact the National Fossil Day staff at

When is the deadline?

All submissions must be postmarked by 5 p.m. EST, Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 (one week BEFORE National Fossil Day). Entries postmarked later will not be eligible. Entries cannot be returned. American Geosciences Institute cannot confirm receipt of entries.

How will the artwork be judged?

The artwork will be judged by a panel on originality, creativity, quality and, most importantly, relevance to the topic. Submissions will be separated into and judged based upon the following age groups:

  • 8 years old or younger
  • 9 to 13 years old
  • 14 to 18 years old
  • 19 years old or above

Winning Art and Photographs?

The winning artworks and photographs for each category will appear on the National Fossil Day website starting on or after National Fossil Day. Check the National Fossil Day website to see if your artwork has been selected! To see last year's winners, click here.

If you have any problems or questions regarding the art contest, please contact the National Fossil Day staff at We look forward to your feedback!

Disclaimer: By submitting an entry, the entrant agrees to allow the National Park Service to use his or her name to post on the National Fossil Day Web site, without compensation unless prohibited. All entries and all rights of ownership in and to the entries, including all rights to use, reproduce, publish, modify, edit, and distribute the same will become the exclusive property of NPS and will not be returned. NPS reserves the right to edit, modify, copyright, publish, use, and reproduce any and all entries without further compensation. The National Park Service, its agents and contractor, are not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, incomplete, or postage-due entries. Contest void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Last updated: May 3, 2016