What is this Program?
The Federal Junior Duck Stamp is a nationwide program coordinated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designed to teach the importance of conserving our wetlands habitat and waterfowl to students. It pairs science, the arts, and other core subjects to creatively teach greater awareness of our natural resources.
Teachers can choose from a variety of lessons to get across concepts of ecology, conservation, and civic action. At the same time, challenge students with assignments for writing, oral presentations, data collection, graphing, mapping, and much more.
As part of the program, students are invited to participate in an annual art competition. Creating an entry is a valuable experience. It helps students tie together lessons on animal form and function, plant science, observation, wetland habitats, and more. In the visual arts, students practice sketching, drawing, painting, and composition.
The art competition is open to students from kindergarten to grade 12. Enter through school (public or private), homeschool, or on your own.
A Quick History
Florida piloted the first local contest in 1989. Soon other states were following the example. Tennessee got involved in 1995. The program grew rapidly, and now all states and the District of Columbia participate. Find the program coordinator for your state.
1992 was the first time a sheet of Federal Junior Duck stamps was printed, and it included nine state Best of Show winners from 1991 and 1992. After that, a national competition was instituted, with the top winning art printed as a stamp and sold to raise funds for conservation education.
In Tennessee, the program is run under the office of the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge with the help of partners such as the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, and Bass Pro Shops. The program has now blossomed to attracting an average of 500 of the top student waterfowl artists and provides a prestigious awards ceremony for the top 100 winning students.
For the past seven years, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has taken the Tennessee Best of Show winning artwork and produced a state waterfowl stamp sold for conservation education.
Where to See the Art
The Tennessee top 36 winning artwork also travels to locations across the state for public viewing and promotion of the program. The Tennessee competition winners are displayed at the following locations:
- First Citizens Bank in Dyersburg in June
- Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge in July
- The Renaissance Center in Dickson in August
- The Customs House Museum in Clarksville in September
- Lichterman Nature Center in Memphis in October
- Chattanooga Hamilton County Library in November
- Campbell County High School in December
Entering the Competition
Rules and Entry form for this free competition.All entries for the Tennessee art competition are due on March 15 each year. Please keep in mind two key rules. First, the species of waterfowl you draw must be a native North American duck, goose, or swan. Here is a list of qualified species. Second, all entries must be drawn horizontally and be 9" high by 12" wide. Here are some tips for creating your entry.
Soon after the annual entry deadline, the artwork is judged by a panel of experts. The judges change each year, but the panel typically includes a combination of waterfowl biologists, artists, and natural resource professionals. The art is separated into four grade groups (K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12), and each group is judged independently. Once the first place winners for each group have been selected, they are viewed again to select a single Best of Show for the state.
Award Ceremony and Prizes
When students submit an entry in the Tennessee competition, they have the chance to win some great prizes and even attend an awards ceremony at the Opryland Hotel!
- Every entry will receive a Certificate of Participation.
- 100 Tennessee students (25 in each grade group) receive beautiful first, second, third, or honorable mention ribbons (groups are K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12).
- 100 Tennessee students also receive a Tennessee Jr. Duck Stamp lapel pin, and a Federal Jr. Duck Stamp.
- 36 first, second and third place winners will receive special engraved Junior Duck Stamp plaques.
- The Tennessee Best of Show winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship, and their artwork on the state waterfowl stamp.
- The Tennessee Best of Show will go on to compete in the national Junior Duck Stamp contest..
- The first place national winner receives a $5,000 cash award, a free trip to Washington, D.C. with parent and teacher, to attend the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, and his/her winning design is used on the Federal Junior Duck Stamp.
- The second place national winner receives a $3,000 cash award; and the third place national winner receives a $2,000 cash award. National top ten, $500, National Conservation Message first place, $500; second place, $300; third place, $200.
Materials for Teachers
The Junior Duck Stamp Program uses the environment as the theme to creatively teach and reinforce core subjects. If you are interested in using this program but are unsure about instructing students in sketching and drawing waterfowl, view the Waterfowl ID and Drawing Guide produced by the California Waterfowl Association. This resource offers several approaches to drawing, includes step-by-step examples, highlights several duck species, and includes simple tips for bird identification.
Since the program began, several activity resources have been assembled:
- In 1990, the first curriculum for the Junior Duck Stamp Program was developed. It is a K-12 booklet slanted toward the arts (music, dance, art appreciation, poetry).
- In 1996, the Federal Duck Stamp Office produced a new activity guide with a slant toward the sciences, addressing topics such as field journals, adaptation, endangered species, migration, habitats, and conservation action.