Created two decades ago as an innovative way to teach children about wetlands and waterfowl, the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program curriculum has been updated with new lesson plans, exercises and activities focused on conservation science and the changing natural world. The program reaches more than 27,000 children each year.

“We’ve designed a curriculum that will spark kids’ interest in habitat conservation and careers in natural resources through science, art, math and technology,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.

The curriculum, aimed at grades 5 to 8, is written, field–tested and evaluated by educators and biologists. It now meets a number of national education standards in science, environmental education and visual arts.

Perhaps most appealing are the stories of the kids who explore, investigate and share information about ducks, geese and swans on the pages of the youth guide. Michael asks, “If you were a duck, what would you do all day long?” Matthew wonders how ducks know what other ducks are thinking. “I wonder how waterfowl tell each other that it’s time to feed, or roost or migrate.” And Jasmine asks, “However they do it, is it the same for all ducks? What about geese and swans?”

Each chapter of the guide includes learning objectives, activities, Internet links and resources, and adaptations to make the information appropriate for elementary or high school students. Students can learn how to keep nature journals, with tips from the Smithsonian and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and perhaps translate their knowledge about waterfowl into paintings and drawings. The best artwork can be submitted to Junior Duck Stamp contests in each state and ultimately around the country.

Youth and Educator Guides are available online at, for use as an entire curriculum or for single programs.