Inspiring Awareness and Appreciation for Conservation through Science and Art
The Junior Duck Stamp Program is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service science and art curriculum designed to teach students K-12 about wetland and waterfowl conservation. The program, established in 1989, is centered around an annual art contest and encourages students to explore their natural world. Students who participate in the program create an artwork picture and submit it to their state coordinator. Historically, contest entries were required to depict a photo-realistic image of a North American duck, goose, or swan. In 2019, the program was expanded to accept all forms of artwork, including caricature, cultural, comic, pop, hyperrealism, and more. Each participating state or contest area will choose a “Best of Show” winner and that entry will be submitted to the national contest. The winner of the national contest will then get their piece used as the image on the next year’s Federal Junior Duck Stamp.
The first Federal Junior Duck Stamp was printed in 1993-1994. Proceeds from the sale of the $5 stamp are invested back into the education program, providing recognition and scholarships for contest participants and winners. Currently, all 50 states, Washington D.C., and 4 U.S. territories participate in the program.
Students from North Dakota first participated in the program in 1994. The program has been active in the state for 29 years, resulting in over 24,100 entries from youth across all areas of the state. Considering five-year average participation (pre-COVID), North Dakota ranks 4th in the country, reaching more than 1,200 students per year, with only California, Florida, and Arkansas receiving greater student participation.
In an effort to expand outreach in northwestern North Dakota in 2010, local Fish and Wildlife Service staff partnered with Jane Kalmbach, visual artist of Dakota Blessings Studio in Kenmare, who provided waterfowl and art instruction within local classrooms. Funds received through a small grant from the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust in 2014 and beyond allowed Kalmbach to take her teaching on the road, traveling the state mentoring new teachers and introducing students to the Junior Duck Stamp Program. Over the course of 12 years, Jane has taught 403 Junior Duck Stamp classes from Grand Forks to Williston, and Fargo to Dickinson, with many locations in between.
Colleen Graue, the current North Dakota Junior Duck Stamp coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is excited to bring on new partners this fall, including past 3-time Best of Show winner and recent graduate, Daniel Schumacher, and Vivian Kalmik, artist at James Memorial Art studio in Williston, to assist as mentors and help reach out to new teachers and schools in North Dakota.
Ongoing recruitment of teachers and students is vital to keeping this program active and strong in the state. Numerous community and non-profit organizations contribute funds and provide continued support for this amazing program. Most recent contributors include Barnes County Wildlife Federation, Cass Co. Wildlife Club, Delta Waterfowl Foundation, Falkirk Mining, Kenmare Vets Gaming, Kindred Wildlife Club, North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, Red River Area Sportsman Club, Stutsman Co. Wildlife Federation, Tewaukon Rod and Gun Club, and United Sportsmen of Jamestown. Refuge Friends groups include Audubon Refuge Partners Inc., Friends of Souris Loop Refuges, Friends of White Horse Hill, and Prairie Pothole Partners.
Any teacher, student, homeschool, parent, or artist interested in participating or learning more is encouraged to contact Colleen at email@example.com for information and support. A full list of contest rules and regulations can be found at www.fws.gov/program/junior-duck-stamp under contest information.
This year’s Best of Show winner for ND was high school senior Emily Klein from Valley City with her colored pencil and watercolor rendition of a pair of mottled ducks in flight titled “First Flight on the Setting Sun.”
Past winners from North Dakota include Daniel Schumacher, Linton (2021, 2020, 2019, 2018); Megan Tichy, Tower City (2017); Cassidy Fulton, Valley City (2016); Emery Dobitz, Killdeer (2015); Brennen Stotts, Lisbon (2014); Destiny Winkler, Valley City (2013); Mark Staple, Harwood (2012); Joseph Dwyer, Bismarck (2011); Alicia Rhode, Valley City (2010); Thomas Dwyer, Bismarck (2009, 2006); Ashley Berg, Valley City (2008); Megan Gilbertson, Valley City (2007); Daniel Dwyer, Bismarck (2005, 2003); Chelsey Klinger, Valley City (2004); Rachel Dwyer (2002, 2001); Nevada Miller, Raleigh (2000, 1999, 1998); Sam Coleman, Bismarck (1997, 1996); Tara Thorenson, Mandan (1995); and John Mittleider, Page (1994).
If you’d like to purchase a Junior Duck Stamp to support the program, visit www.duckstamp.com or call 1-800-782-6724.