Nancy Howe projects the image
of the all-American girl: neat appearance, friendly, attractive
in a very wholesome way, intelligent, active in outdoor sports,
down-to-earth personality, and a deep sense of loyalty to
Nancy, the second oldest of three
daughters of Herbert and Audrey Howe, was born November 17,
1950, in Summit, New Jersey. Her father was a presentation
specialist for Esquire magazine, but he was always happier
pursuing his avocation of amateur inventor.
Audrey was a dancer with the
New York City Ballet prior to settling down and raising a
family. She was also quite accomplished at drawing the human
figure. It is not difficult to understand where Nancy acquired
her creativity and artistic talent.
Herbert was also an avid outdoorsman
and spent as many hours as he could hunting, fishing, or just
hiking. Nancy was a more than eager tagalong, whether it meant
rising in the cold, predawn hours of winter or traversing
hostile terrain on the way to a good fishing spot. She is
not easily discouraged. She even ties her own fishing flies.
Although she wasn't aware of
it at the time, Nancy's art career started in the first grade
of elementary school when she won the contest for the cover
of the school magazine. The contest was open to all students
in the first four grades, and her crayon drawing of a little
boy cutting flowers with a pair of scissors sufficiently impressed
the judges. Throughout grade school and high school, she continued
to compete in local and regional art contests, winning more
than her fair share of honors.
Sports have always been important
to Nancy. In high school she pitched for the softball team,
played basketball, and field hockey. However, it was skiing
which brought her competitive spirit to its peak. Her love
for the slalom and giant slalom led her to win the New Jersey
State Slalom Championship white in her senior year at Morris
Knolls Regional High School. In 1969 she graduated valedictorian.
Skiing played a major role in
her selection of Middlebury 122 College in Vermont for her
advanced education. She liked their liberal arts program,
but their highly acclaimed ski team was the deciding factor.
Her skills easily assured her a position on the team.
After completing college, Nancy
gave up competition skiing and now skis only for personal
enjoyment. Her love of skiing has been passed on to her two
young sons, Tyler and Ryan. Although they are only seven and
nine years old respectively, they are both more than able
to hold their own on the slopes.
Jim Russell, Nancy's husband
(Nancy still uses her maiden name for her art career), is
a doctor who specializes in emergency medicine and trauma
at Rutland Regional Medical Center. He, too, is an excellent
skier, and family togetherness often takes the form of a weekend
on a snow-covered Mountainside.
They live on a small farm surrounded
by national forest land about a 15 minute drive from the nearest
small town. Besides the two boys, they share their home with
one chocolate Labrador retriever, one cat, a rabbit, some
goldfish, and a parakeet.
Around the exterior, Nancy shepherds
a flock of sheep which over the past 15 years has been cultivated
into her own crossbreed. She maintains between 30 and 40 ewes
in the flock, and with twins and triplets being dropped during
the lambing season, there is precious little time left for
relaxation. To help offset the expense of raising sheep, she
sells lambs, yarn, sheepskin, and breeding stock. The sheep
certainly aren't a money-maker, but she enjoys them as a hobby
and growing up around animals will surely prove to be beneficial
to her children.
As busy as Nancy is keeping up
with all her critters, plus following her career in art, she
has still found time to do a bit of professional modeling.
Recently, that has been nudged into the background, but she
still occasionally models clothing and other merchandise for
The Orvis Company.
Nancy painted primarily for her
own satisfaction for a number of years, and she did not paint
birds until about 1976. She submitted an entry for the National
Wild Turkey stamp print the first year that the contest was
open to all artists. She didn't win, but her entry impressed
several people enough to encourage her to enter the federal
duck stamp contest. She entered for 13 consecutive years before
perseverance finally paid off. Another piece of duck stamp
history was written when, on November 7, 1990, she became
the only woman thus far to win the coveted award.
Nancy's commitment to wildlife
has spurred her to add a new dimension to winning the duck
stamp contest. For the first time ever, the artist and the
print publisher, Voyageur Art, will share in donating $5.00
per print to wetlands conservation. They have arranged a challenge
program whereby government agencies, non-profit organizations,
and private corporations will provide matching funds. Several
specific projects in the United States and Canada were selected
based on their importance to waterfowl habitat.