Overview of the Junior Duck Stamp Program
The JDS has increased in popularity significantly since its inception in 1989 and even more since the implementation of a national art contest and stamp in 1993. The program was first recognized by Congress in 1994 when the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act was enacted. In 2000, Congress reauthorized the program and expanded it from 17 states to include students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.
Revenue from the sales of the JDS goes to support awards and environmental education for students who participate in the program, as well as efforts to market the stamp.
Enter the Junior Duck Stamp Contest
Preparation for the Junior Duck Stamp contest and involvement in the program requires students to think about and understand at least the fundamental principles of anatomy and environmental science, and can be a valid barometer of a student’s grasp of these topics. The program also provides an opportunity for students to learn science and artistically express their knowledge of the beauty, diversity and interdependence of wildlife. Preparation for the program often includes a visit to a national wildlife refuge - a prime location not only for observing our nation’s wildlife, but also for having hands-on experiences in hundreds of visitor centers located within refuges.
The Junior Duck Stamp contest begins each spring when students submit their artwork to a state or territory contest. At the state level, students are judged in four groups according to grade level: Group I: K-3, Group II: 4-6, Group III: 7-9 and Group IV 10-12. Three first, second and third place entries are selected for each group. A “Best of Show” is selected by the judges from the 12 first-place winners regardless of their grade group. Each state or territory Best of Show is then entered into the national Junior Duck Stamp Contest. To further the interdisciplinary underpinnings of the program, students are encouraged, but not required, to include a conservation message on their entry form with their art design. The conservation message is judged in some states and at the national level for all Best of Show winners. The message explains something the student has learned about wetlands habitat, conservation or waterfowl. It may also be a statement used to encourage others to participate in conservation.
The winning design from the national contest is used to create the Junior Duck Stamp for the following year. Junior Duck Stamps are sold by the U.S. Postal Service and Amplex Corporation consignees for $5 per stamp. Proceeds from the sale of Junior Duck Stamp support conservation education, and provide awards and scholarships for the students, teachers and schools that participate in the program.
In 1989, with a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Dr. Joan Allemand developed the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program, a dynamic arts curriculum that teaches wetlands and waterfowl conservation to students from kindergarten through high school. The program incorporates scientific and wildlife management principles into a visual arts curriculum. Participants complete a JDS design as their visual "term papers," using visual arts, rather than verbal communication, to articulate what they have learned. Through this program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service introduces the Federal Duck Stamp program and the National Wildlife Refuge System to participants and educates new generations of citizens about the importance of waterfowl and wetlands conservation.
In 1990, 3,000 students in public and private schools were the first to participate in the JDS Program curriculum and art contest. Florida and Illinois were added in 1991, with Arkansas, Kansas and Vermont entering the program in 1992. At that time, a state stamp sheet was developed using the Best of Show winners from each participating state from 1991 and 1992. This $10 stamp sheet included nine state JDS designs. Due to printing costs for the Best of Show stamp sheet, it was determined that a national competition, using the Best of Show winning designs from each state, would be held to select a design for a Federal Junior Duck Stamp.
Maryland and South Dakota entered the program in 1993. With eight states competing, the first national competition was held to select one design to become the first Federal Junior Duck Stamp. That year, during the First Day of Sale Ceremony for the Federal Duck Stamp, judges selected the first, second and third place national winning designs. The first Federal Junior Duck Stamp design winner was Jason Parsons from Canton, Ill. His design, titled "Ruffling Redhead," was used to create the Junior Duck Stamps, which sold for $5 each.
Seventeen new states joined the program in 1994. At that time, stamps were purchased by an individual as a contribution to the NFWF’s Junior Duck Stamp Challenge Grant. Proceeds from the sale of the stamps were used as matching funds to support the program. With the grant term expiring, the Service sponsored legislation to gain Congressional authorization for the Federal Junior Duck Stamp and direct the proceeds from sales to support conservation education in the form of awards and scholarships for the participants.
The Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Act of 1994 was enacted on October 6, 1994. The act directed the Secretary of the Interior to create a Junior Duck Stamp and to license and market the JDS and the stamp design. The proceeds from these efforts are used to support conservation education awards and scholarships. In 2000, Congress reauthorized the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act for another five years and expanded the conservation education program throughout the U.S. and its territories. Since that time, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have joined the program.
The program’s success is due to partnerships with federal and state government agencies, nongovernment organizations, businesses, and volunteers who have helped to recognize and honor thousands of teachers and students throughout the United States for their participation in conservation-related activities.
The Junior Duck Stamp Program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. The mission of the Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and
enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and
their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
Junior Duck Stamp Coordinator