Greg Mort's created "Stewardship III" in 2004 to commemorate his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife, Nadine. The image was used to advertise this year's Art of Stewardship Exhibit, scheduled to begin April 19. (Submitted photo / April 6, 2012)

For the past three years, the Howard County Conservancy has served as host for a juried "Art of Stewardship" exhibit that commences in January with a call to artists and concludes in April with an awards reception and auction. This year, the show's theme, "All Things Round," focuses on the delightful, spherical properties of nature.

The seed for the Art of Stewardship germinated in 1991 after Montgomery County artist Greg Mort painted a work called Stewardship that depicts the Earth as an apple with an attached price tag. Viewers saw an environmental message in the painting, and former President Bill Clinton felt moved to acquire it for display at the White House. Mort quickly realized the power that visual imagery has to convey the importance of environmental issues. In his words, "art transcends language."

In 2008, Mort and his wife, Nadine, established the Art of Stewardship Project, a private foundation that encourages environmental awareness and stewardship through the arts. The project helps stimulate creative ideas, fosters alliances between artists, educational organizations, and environmental groups, and connects those entities with useful information and resources. The project has also partnered with Circle of Blue (www.circleofblue.org), a global organization dedicated to raising awareness of global fresh water issues.

In 2010, the Art of Stewardship Project joined forces with the Conservancy and Baltimore's American Visionary Art Museum to present the Art of Stewardship exhibit, which culminates around Earth Day. This year, the wine and cheese reception will begin April 19 at 6 p.m.


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The original call to artists invited those of any age and background to express the show's theme through their original works — photography, painting, sculpture, multimedia — using any style of expression. A trio of jurors then evaluated the art for acceptance and awards. The jurors consist of Mort; Rebecca Hoffberger, AVAM's founder and director; and New York Times contributor Anne Raver.

Prizes include first-, second- and third-places in student and overall categories as well as awards for Most Reflective of Stewardship Theme, People's Choice and Best in Show. Mort said that a large number of students entered artwork this year and he is also excited about the overall number of participants (who are mainly from Howard County, but are not constrained by location). The award winners will be announced April 19.

To view this year's artwork, go to the Gudelsky Environmental Education Center at the Conservancy during the next week or register for the reception and auction at http://www.hcconservancy.org. Tickets cost $10 by Tuesday, April 17 or $12 after that date. For more information about Mort or the Art of Stewardship Project, go to web.me.com/gregmort/gregmort.com.

Mark your calendars now for two upcoming events, one new and one old! On April 28 (rain date is May 5), the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary will hold its first community yard sale fundraiser in the parking lot behind the station. The WFVFD is at the intersection of Old Frederick Road (Route99) and Sykesville Road (Route 32).

If you would like to sell your wares, the cost is $30 per space. Setup will begin at 6:30 a.m. with the sale running from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call Norma at 410-730-6969 or Sandy at 410-442-1471 to reserve a spot.

West Friendship Elementary School will also present its annual Spring Festival, rain or shine, May 4, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event will feature crowd favorites such as the cake walk and the soda toss, but also new games and activities, such as a giant fire and ice slide, henna tattoos and a surprise activity with the school's popular building supervisor, Stewart Custis.

For more information about festival games, activities, and volunteer opportunities, email Karen Wright at karenw@futures-inc.com or Kellie Cimerola at kcimerola@yahoo.com.

Do you need to keep up-to-date on CPR certification for a job, a volunteer position, or an ill family member? Or perhaps you would just like some training for peace of mind? The CareGiver's Ministry at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church will sponsor an American Heart Association HeartSaver CPR and AED Training class April 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. After successfully completing the course, attendees will receive a two-year AHA HeartSaver card.

Training costs $40 (including lunch), and registration is required. Make checks payable to "Mt. Zion UMC," and note "CPR Class" in the memo line. To learn more or to register, email barbjacques@verizon.net, or call 301-854-2324. Mt. Zion is at 12430 Scaggsville Road (Route 216), in Highland, and the church website is mtzionhighland.com.

The Howard County 4-H Youth Program will offer a residential summer camp June 24-30 at the Western Maryland 4-H Education Center, in Garrett County. This ACA accredited camp is open to all children, ages 8 (as of Jan. 1, 2012) through 13 and youth ages 14-18 are needed to fill leadership roles.

Camp activities will include crafts, cooking, candle-making, swimming and canoeing, camping, hiking, nature class, archery, riflery and sports. The week costs $390, including transportation, and need-based scholarships are available.

For registration forms or other information, go to http://www.howard4-h.org.

Looking for a volunteer opportunity that "fits your style?" Charity's Closet and Success in Style need assistance with both weekday and weekend shifts. Success in Style is a Howard County nonprofit that provides business attire and interview counseling for men and women in crisis and Charity's Closet is the thrift boutique in Savage Mill that supports Success in Style through its proceeds.

Volunteering has intrinsic rewards, such as the good feeling that comes from improving the community and volunteering at Charity's Closet/Success in Style also provides a fun way to meet new friends. These volunteers enjoy yet another special perk: for every four-hour shift they work, they get to select one item at Charity's Closet. To learn more, email successinstyle@verizon.net, or go to successinstyle.org.

Don't forget that the Howard County Conservancy will offer a free Wonder Walk — "Hike to the River: Signs of Spring" — Saturday, April 14 at 10 a.m. The Conservancy lies on Old Frederick Road (Route 99) between Woodstock Road and Bethany Lane. Call 410-465-8877 with any questions.