A four-part curriculum guide with activities and resources can be used as a year-round study plan to assist students in exploring science in real-life situations. Using scientific and wildlife observation principles, students are encouraged to communicate visually what they have learned through an entry into the Junior Duck Stamp art contest. This non-traditional pairing of subjects brings new interest to both the sciences and the arts. It crosses cultural, ethnic, social and geographic boundaries to teach greater awareness of our nation's natural resources.
Approximately 20,000 students entered state art contests in 2019. By displaying student artwork and delivering waterfowl and wetland related outdoor activities, state coordinators share student accomplishments with over 300,000 students, families and communities annually. Several students who have participated in the program have gone on to become full-time wildlife artists and conservation professionals; many attribute their interest and success to their early exposure to the Junior Duck Stamp Program.
The Junior Duck Stamp is a pictorial stamp produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to recognize the conservation efforts of young people and support environmental and conservation education programs in the United States. The art competition is the culmination of students' study of waterfowl and wetlands conservation in the classroom, homeschool, or non-formal education setting, often using the Junior Duck Stamp Program educational curriculum.
A winning stamp design is selected at a national art contest. The first place national winner of the art contest graces that year's Junior Duck Stamp and is sold by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Postal Service and Amplex Corporation for $5. The first stamp, issued in 1993-1994, was painted by Jason Parsons of Illinois. All proceeds of the stamp are used to fund environmental education programs, recognize and award students for their work, and expand the conservation education program.
The program began in 1989 as an extension of the Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp, commonly known as the Federal Duck Stamp. The national Junior Duck Stamp art contest started in 1993 and the first stamp design was selected from the eight participating states. The program was recognized by Congress with the 1994 enactment of the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act.
By 2000, the program included all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. The program encourages partnerships among federal and state government agencies, nongovernment organizations, businesses, and volunteers to help recognize and honor thousands of teachers and students throughout the United States for their participation in conservation-related activities.