Junior Duck Stamp Contest:
The king eider wears the crown

Seventeen-year-old Sue Yeon Park, of Ranch Palos Verdes, Calif., won best of show in the California level Junior Duck Stamp art contest  held Thursday at  Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Willows, Calif.  Credit: Byrhonda Lyons/USFWS

By Rebecca Fabbri
April 4, 2017

On the crisp morning of March 30, 2017, 10 judges gathered for the 27th Annual California Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Willows, Calif.

Judges included U.S. Fish and Wildlife directors, biologists and others from waterfowl related organizations.

We were judging CA Junior Duck Stamp artwork Friday.
Here's a quick video of the first round of voting.
Credit: Byrhonda Lyons/USFWS

“The Junior Duck Stamp Program is a great way to see what young students in the area have learned about waterfowl biology and wildlife conservation from our staff members,” said Lora Haller, visitor services manager at the refuge. “Great anatomical features, detailed feathers, color and habitats are all incorporated in their artwork. It’s really exciting to see children learn from our programs.”

Held annually by the Service’s Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program showcases the incredible waterfowl artwork created by students from kindergarten through 12th grade from across California. This year, the judges analyzed a staggering 2,276 entries.

“Just seeing the use of medium, such as watercolor is really impressive,” said Polly Wheeler, assistant regional director for refuges. “Also the precise anatomical correctness of the waterfowl was really amazing. We really had unbelievable talent this year.”

A realistic acrylic painting of a king eider by Sue Yeon Park, age 17, Rancho Palos Verdes, made the 2017 Best of Show for California. Her artwork will be submitted to Washington D.C. to compete with the other states’ Best of Show winners during the National Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest on April 21, 2017.

The national winner’s design will be made into the 2017-2018 Federal Junior Duck Stamp.

“I think what’s most amazing is that you have so many kids who care about conservation,” said Paul Souza, Pacific Southwest regional director. “I was amazed by how advanced their thinking was about the interconnection of ecosystems and wildlife and people and habitats. There’s just a clear understanding of the linkages of a healthy environment.

“People taking the time to bring their passion to art for conservation and how many of them share their conservation strategies are an inspiration. Conservation is an activity that’s never done; it’s something that’s a work in progress every single day," he said. " To see the passion of youth for conservation gives you hope for the future because we know that there will be people who will step in as conservation professionals and continue the legacy that we love.”

Haley Henderson, a visitor services intern, displays an entry in the California level, Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest. Credit: Hazel Holby/USFWS

Judges narrow the field by voting on groups of submissions. Credit: Byrhonda Lyons/USFWS

The young artists were asked to submit thier own conservation messages for the viewing board.  Credit: Byrhonda Lyons/USFWS

Winning entries from Group 3, grades 7-9. Credit: Byrhonda Lyons/USFWS

Winning entries from Group 2, grades 4-6. Credit: Byrhonda Lyons/USFWS

Winning entries from Group 1, grades K-3. Credit: Byrhonda Lyons/USFWS

Rebecca Fabbri is a partnership public affairs specialist with the Pacific Southwest Region's External Affairs Office, located in Sacramento, Calif.