2023 National Junior Duck Stamp Contest

The 2023 National Junior Duck Stamp Contest was held at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV on Friday April 21, 2023. A panel of 5 judges considered 62 entries submitted by the 50 States, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Territories.

Linyue Mila Tong, 15, from Virginia took top honors with an acrylic painting of a hooded merganser who had just caught a fish. Grace Cao, 12, of Texas provided the winning conservation message of “Never duck the chance of conservation.”

Second place was awarded to Arianna Sun of Georgia for an oil painting of a cinnamon teal. Third place went to Emily Lian of Oregon who entered a pair of mallards, also done in oil. Please see the attached for an entire list of entry placement.

The original entries will also travel around the country as part of a display. To see or schedule the entries near you, please contact your state coordinator or see the calendar.

The winning artwork will grace the 2023-2024 Junior Duck Stamp. Funds raised from sales of the $5 collectible stamp are used to educate and engage our nation’s youth in wildlife and wetland conservation and outdoor recreation. This will be the 31st Junior Duck Stamp in the series and will go on sale on June 23, 2023

A high-resolution version of the winning image is available for certain uses. News media should contact Valerie Fellows at Valerie Fellows or 703/358-2285. Others interested in obtaining a license to use the image should contact Suzanne Fellows at Suzanne Fellows or 703/358-2145.

All students in kindergarten through grade twelve are encouraged to participate in the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program annual art and conservation message contest as part of the Junior Duck Stamp Program curriculum.

The art and conservation message competition serve as the "final project" – an opportunity for students to share what they have learned about waterfowl and habitat conservation through the curriculum or through their own study and observation.

Ready to Participate in the Contest? Here's What You Need to do!

  1. Review the annual brochure and print out entry forms (English/Spanish).
  2. Read the contest rules carefully and make sure you meet eligibility requirements.
  3. Begin researching and preparing your entry.
  4. Fill in the entry form (English/Spanish) and reference form (English/Spanish) (if required) completely and affix to the back of your entry.
  5. Mail your entry to your state coordinator by the deadline. It's as simple as that!

General Information

The Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest is the culmination of the Junior Duck Stamp educational program. After studying waterfowl anatomy and habitat, students may express their newfound knowledge by drawing, painting or sketching a picture of an eligible North American waterfowl species.

Because students express themselves best in different formats, the conservation message contest gives them an opportunity to use the written word to express their knowledge. Students from across the United States submit their artwork to their state, territory or district competition.

The "Best of Show" from each competition is submitted to the National Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest, where a panel of judges will select one image to become the next Junior Duck Stamp.

Contest Eligibility - Who May Participate?

Any K-12 student attending public, private or homeschool in the United States and the U.S. Territories is eligible to enter, as long as you are a U.S. Citizen, resident alien, or national (a social security number, Green Card or Visa will be required for all Best of Show winners). U.S. Citizens attending schools abroad may enter through their legal state of residence. Students may enter through their school, as a home project or as a part of a youth or community activity

  1. The student who won First Place in the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest the preceding year may not submit an entry in the current year's contest.
  2. Only one entry per student.
  3. Supervising adults should encourage all students to participate in the Junior Duck Stamp education program and enter the art contest.
  4. In the case of foreign exchange students, their artwork may be judged at the state level. However, if the artwork is awarded Best of Show, although it may be honored as a winner in that state, it will not be forwarded to the national competition.

Entry Deadlines

Submit your Junior Duck Stamp entry to your state contest by the state's deadline. All entries must be postmarked by March 15, except:
California and Maryland (entries postmarked by February 1)
Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Washington (entries postmarked by February 15)
Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah and Virginia (entries postmarked by March 1)
Oregon (entries postmarked by March 10)
Do not send your artwork directly to the national office.

Art Contest Rules

  1. Design entries must be contestant's original, hand-drawn creation and may not be traced or copied from photographs or other artists' works.
  2. Image must be a live portrayal of a native North American duck, swan or goose (refer to Eligible Species list).
  3. The entry may be multi-color, black and white, or a single color; it may be rendered in ink, paint, pastel, crayon, or pencil. Techniques may include scratch-board, airbrush, linoleum printing, paper collage, dry brush, crosshatch, pointillism, etc.
  4. No photography or computer-generated art will be accepted. Computers or other mechanical devices may not be used in creating artwork.
  5. The physical size of submitted artwork must be 9" x 12" and less than ¼" thick.
  6. Image layout must be horizontal.
  7. Entries should not be matted.
  8. There should be no border around the image.
  9. A loose, detachable cover sheet may be laid over the art face to protect it during shipping. Spray chalk and pastel entries with a fixative to eliminate possible scuffing and smudging during transfer of artwork.
  10. No lettering, words, signatures or initials may appear on the front of the design. Inclusion of such markings will result in disqualification
  11. See the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program and Contest brochure for detailed contest rules.

Eligible Species

Your entry should feature a live portrayal featuring at least one of the species below. Mute swans, loons, grebes, coots and other such waterbirds are not permitted species.

  • Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
  • Fulvous Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor)
  • Emperor Goose (Anser canagicus)
  • Snow Goose, including blue phase (Anser caerulescens)
  • Ross's Goose (Anser rossii)
  • Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
  • Brant (Branta bernicla)
  • Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)
  • Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
  • Hawaiian Goose or Nene (Branta sandvicensis)
  • Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)
  • Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)
  • Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)
  • Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors)
  • Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera)
  • Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
  • Gadwall (Mareca strepera)
  • American Wigeon (Mareca americana)
  • Laysan Duck (Anas laysanensis)
  • Hawaiian Duck or Koloa (Anas wyvilliana)
  • Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)
  • Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula)
  • White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis)
  • Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
  • Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)
  • Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)
  • Redhead (Aythya americana)
  • Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
  • Greater Scaup (Aytha marila)
  • Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)
  • Steller's Eider (Polysticta stelleri)
  • Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri)
  • King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)
  • Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)
  • Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)
  • Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)
  • White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca)
  • Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)
  • Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)
  • Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
  • Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
  • Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)
  • Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)
  • Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)
  • Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
  • Masked Duck (Oxyura dominica)
  • Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)


Each student is encouraged, but not required, to write a short conservation message that expresses the spirit of what they have learned through classroom discussions, research and planning for their Junior Duck Stamp Contest entries. Conservation messages should be limited to the space provided on the entry form (English/Spanish). One message per state is judged at the national level. States submit either the Best of Show conservation message or the winner of the state conservation message contest. For more information regarding your state's conservation message contest, please contact your state coordinator.

Using References to Prepare Your Entry

Scenes should depict birds in their natural habitat; for example, sea ducks should be shown in ocean areas. Feather colors should be appropriate to the time of the year depicted by the environment. Decoratively designed birds receive equal voting consideration as realistic depictions as long as they are anatomically correct according to species depicted.

Students should not reproduce other artists' visual images for the purpose of presenting them as their own creative work. Only work that is the unique creation of the individual student should be entered into the competition. Please do not submit work which has been copied from another source.

Students may rely on images as guides when producing their artwork. However, the entry must be the student's own creation, and idea and reference materials may not be copied or traced or otherwise presented as the student's own work. Refer to the current brochure for examples of how to properly use reference materials.


All phases of the judging procedure are open to the general public. Entries will be judged on the basis of design, anatomical accuracy, artistic composition, and suitability for reproduction on a 1 1/2" by 1" stamp. Both realistic and imaginative interpretations are acceptable.

Artwork is judged by group level – all K-3rd graders, 4th-6th graders, 7th-9th graders and 10th-12th graders are judged within their age group. For each state, district, or territory, there are 100 awards: 12 First Place, 12 Second Place, 12 Third Place and up to 64 Honorable Mentions. Judging at the state level continues until awards have been allocated for first, second and third place, plus honorable mentions.

One student's design will be selected from the 12 First Place winners as "Best of Show." Notification of winners will be made as soon as possible. The state coordinator and/or a member of the Duck Stamp Office staff will oversee all judging events.


Awards and prizes vary from state to state; however, all entries receive certificates of participation and the top 100 winners in each state, district or territory receive special recognition. At the national level, scholarships are awarded to the top three artists and the winning conservation message.

In addition, the national art winner and one parent or guardian will receive a free trip to participate in the First Day of Sale ceremony in late June/early July.

Return of Entries

All entries will be returned. Artwork may be mailed back to the student or to the school. In some areas, teachers and students may be notified to pick up artwork at a central location. After the state contest, your state coordinator will inform you of artwork return procedures. Non-placing entries will be returned by June 1.

Placing artwork and the state Best of Show may become part of a traveling display; they will be returned by June of the following year.

For questions regarding your artwork or to report a change of address, please contact your state, territory or district coordinator. If artwork is unclaimed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not be obligated to trace the location of the artist to return the artwork. All unclaimed entries may be destroyed one year from the date of the contest. Every effort will be made to safely return artwork to the students.

Display of Duck Stamp Designs

Each state, district or territory Best of Show entry will be displayed at the Federal Duck Stamp Contest judging, waterfowl festivals, wildlife museums, and galleries throughout the United States. State programs may also choose to display the top winning artwork. Find out where to see the national Best of Show art exhibit or how to borrow the exhibit on our website. Contact your state, territory or district coordinator to find out about state exhibits.

2023 National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest winner and judges
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...
2023-2024 Junior Duck Stamp featuring a hooded merganser painted by Mila Linyue Tong from Virginia. (c) USFWS
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...