Every year since 1989, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has sponsored the National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest, and the results are in. The top three winners are chosen from thousands of students nationwide, and 2021 was no different with over 9,000 entries. This year, the top honors went to an 18-year-old from Kansas, an 18-year-old from North Dakota and a 12-year-old from Maine. It's a display of talent that every American should see...and they'll get a chance soon, right on the upper-left corner of the next piece of mail they receive from a fellow duck hunter or conservationist.
First place went to 18-year-old Margaret McMullen, and her stunning acrylic painting of two hooded mergansers, drake and hen. That image will adorn the 2021-2022 Junior Duck Stamp, which raises funds to engage our America's young people in wildlife and wetlands conservation and outdoor recreation. We'll get to the nuts and bolts of the contest soon, but first, the winners! (McMullen's winning entry is above.)
There's a fourth winner that you should know about, and that's the winner of the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation Message Contest. It's exactly what it sounds like; students are asked to create a pithy phrase that encapsulates their knowledge and feelings about the outdoors. This year's winner, 15-year-old Josie Arp, crafted a message that perfectly describes the tribulations of 2020: “When the world turned upside-down, nature calmly and quietly laid a blanket of comfort over us all.”
“We are so honored to help run a program where thousands of young people from around the country and all different backgrounds and interests have an opportunity to showcase their talents,” said Assistant Director for Migratory Birds Jerome Ford. “These kids have had to adjust to new learning methods during the past year due to the pandemic. It just shows how important this program is to allow students to turn what they know about wildlife and use their passion to turn that into a piece of personal art they share around the country
The Junior Duck Stamp Contest winner receives $1,000. The second place winner receives $500; the third-place winner receives $200; the Conservation Message winner receives $200. For complete contest results, visit http://www.fws.gov/birds/education/junior-duck-stamp-conservation-program.php.
You can buy Junior Duck Stamps online through the U.S. Postal Service and Amplex and at some national wildlife refuges. Proceeds from the sale of Junior Duck Stamps are used for recognition of individuals who submit winning designs in state or national competitions and to further activities related to the conservation education goals of the program. The first day of sale for the 2021-2022 Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp is planned for June 25, 2021.