A talented young artist from Virginia has taken top honors at the National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest. A hooded merganser by 15-year-old Mila Linyue Tong, will grace the 2023-2024 Junior Duck Stamp, which raises funds to educate and engage our nation’s youth in wildlife and wetlands conservation and outdoor recreation.
A panel of five judges chose the entry, painted in acrylic, from among best-of-show entries. Students from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and two U.S. Territories participated in the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program.
“This is one my favorite events every year!” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams. “I’m honored to announce the winners of this prestigious contest that is actually the culmination of thousands of students exploring their natural world through science, art and writing, sharing their gift with others, and nurturing a lifelong love of nature and the outdoors.”
Students in kindergarten through grade twelve participate in their annual state Junior Duck Stamp Program through their school, home, art studio or after-school group, or from a , park or nature center. After learning about wetlands, waterfowl and wildlife conservation, they express their learning through a drawing or painting of a duck, goose or swan.
The top piece of art in the nation – chosen at this annual competition – is featured on the Junior Duck Stamp, sales of which support educational programs and activities that nurture our next generation of conservationists.
The Junior Duck Stamp Program began in 1989 as an extension of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly known as the Duck Stamp. The first national Junior Duck Stamp art contest was held in 1993. The program encourages students to explore their natural world, participate in outdoor recreation activities, and learn wildlife management principles. Approximately 3,000 Junior Duck Stamps are sold annually for $5 each.
Second place winner is Arianna Sun, 14, from Georgia, with an oil painting of a cinnamon teal.
Third place went to 16-year-old Emily Lian from Oregon who entered a pair of mallards painted in oil.
In addition to the art contest, a Junior Duck Stamp Conservation Message Contest encourages students to express in words the spirit of what they have learned through classroom discussions, research, and planning for their Junior Duck Stamp Contest entries. This year’s winner is Grace Cao, 13, of Texas, with the message: “Never duck the chance of conservation.”
“We are so excited to be at the National Conservation Training Center for the Contest this year,” said Assistant Director for Migratory Birds Jerome Ford. “This is the first in-person Junior Duck Stamp National Contest since 2019, and what a thrill it is to see this amazing artwork in person and celebrate these young people with all different backgrounds and interests from all over the country.”
This year, 15,000 young artists submitted entries to the Junior Duck Stamp contests around the nation. For complete contest results, visit the Junior Duck Stamp Contest Webpage.
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.
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 2023-2024 Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp is planned for June 23, 2023.