“Encouragement” Award

I said I would post something re my thoughts on the term “encouragement” award in an art comp. I recently received one of these for a work I entered in a local exhibition. It was a lovely surprise, especially as there was some great work in the exhibition. I just have a bit of a funny feeling about “encouragement” awards to a fairly established artist who has been the recipient of a number of awards previously.

When I first started it was not an issue but I have been painting relatively seriously for almost 20 years, having sold a few works prior to that. I feel I am still learning and will always be doing so. So, yes, encouragement is always welcome, but I believe the often used “highly commended” has a nicer feel to a professional artist than does “encouragement”. Is it just me being silly or do others agree? I can get a tad pedantic about the “best” word.
This is an inaugural exhibition so maybe they would appreciate feedback (as long as I do not sound too critical or ungrateful).