Delavan woman wins state wildlife stamp contests

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Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Sunday, August 10, 2014

The inspiration was right outside her window.

“Turkeys, hawks, deer, pheasants, you name it,” Robin Raab said. “And in all seasons.”

But it took decades and a career change before Raab entered her first Wisconsin wildlife stamp contest.

From there, things happened quickly.

In her first year of competition, Raab, 59, of Delavan, won the state’s stamp design contests for pheasant and wild turkey. She also placed fourth in the waterfowl contest, which James Pieper of Iron Ridge won.

Not too shabby a start in a second career.

“I’m passionate about my art, but I was really surprised by the results, especially when I saw many of the other works,” Raab said.

The Department of Natural Resources holds design contests each year to select art to grace the annual stamps. Funds raised through sales of the stamps support wildlife management programs.

Winners of the contests receive a wooden plaque, a plate of the winning stamps and public recognition.

The top three works of art from this year’s stamp contests are on display at the DNR’s pavilion at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Raab has always been artistic, but for 30 years she expressed the trait at a decorative concrete business she owned. She sculpted forms, made molds, exhibited and sold the work.

After building and running the successful business for three decades, she decided to sell it and shift her focus. Since early 2013 she has dedicated herself to sketching and painting. Her two primary subjects: wildlife and sporting dogs.

Raab lives on five acres in rural Walworth County near Delavan, surrounded by a mix of agricultural, wetland, forest and grassland habitats.

Wildlife sightings are never far away.

“I can’t wait to get up in the morning to start each day,” Raab said. “That’s the nice thing about doing wildlife art. I don’t have to go far.”

Raab said she was pleased her art will assist with state wildlife efforts.

The pheasant stamp sells for $10, the waterfowl stamp is $7 and the turkey stamp is $5.25.

Sales of the turkey stamp produce about $750,000 annually for habitat improvement and education projects as well as equipment purchases, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist Krista McGinley said.

The pheasant stamp raises about $300,000, 60 percent of which is used to produce and stock pheasants and 40 percent for habitat projects. The waterfowl stamp yields about $375,000 for habitat work, about two-thirds of which is in Wisconsin and the balance on breeding grounds in Canada.

The judging panel for the 2015 Wisconsin stamp design contests included Brian Glenzinski, regional biologist for Ducks Unlimited; Caleb Metrich, a previous contest winner; and George Metrich, an avid outdoorsman and retired taxidermist.

The stamps are available free to paid, licensed hunters. Stamp collectors and others may purchase the stamps from the department. For more information, call 888-936-7463 or visit the agency’s online licensing center at dnr.wi.gov.

The stamps created by Raab and Pieper will be valid for the 2015 license year; they are expected to be available in mid-March.

Raab said her first stamp competition has inspired her to continue in the field.

“I’m motivated by the other artists in the state,” Raab said. “And I get a lift every day from what I see in the outdoors. I’ve found what I’m going to do the rest of my life.”

Paul A. Smith is the outdoors editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Email him at psmith@journalsentinel.com.

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