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An acrylic rendition of a hooded merganser pair by 16-year-old Rayen Kang of Johns Creek.

2016 Georgia junior duck stamp student art competition winners chosen

Rayen Kang, a 16-year-old student at the First Fine Art & Design Academy in Johns Creek, has been announced as the winner of the annual 2016 Georgia Junior Duck Stamp Art Competition held yesterday at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Juliette.  Five judges unanimously selected this acrylic rendition of a hooded merganser pair as the Georgia Best of Show. 

Kang will receive a $175 scholarship from Georgia Power, a long-time sponsor of the Georgia Junior Duck Stamp Program, as well as a certificate and ribbon. As Georgia’s Best of Show, Kang’s original artwork will be sent to compete in the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest being held Friday, April 22, at the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Sanibel, Florida. 

“I chose the hooded mergansers to paint since they looked cool. This took about 8 to 10 hours to paint in class,” said Rayen Kang, a talented artist who has been painting for more than five years.

This year, 560 Junior Duck Stamp entries were submitted statewide from 17 different public and private schools, home schools, art studios, and afterschool programs.  Kang’s winning entry was submitted through art teacher Shengji Qu, a renowned Chinese film scenery artist, designer and art director at First Fine Art and Design Academy in Johns Creek.

A panel of distinguished judges selected for their expertise in artistic design, wildlife art, and waterfowl biology decided the winners of this year’s Georgia Junior Duck Stamp Contest. A total of 100 winners were selected, featuring twenty-five winners in each of four different age groups:  Kindergarten to third grade, fourth to sixth grade, seventh to ninth grade and tenth to twelfth grade, as well as the state’s Best of Show. Three First Place, three Second Place, three Third Place and 16 Honorable Mention winners were chosen in each of the four categories. The Best of Show was selected from among all of the First Place winners.

This year’s panel of judges included:  Greg Balkcom, expert waterfowl biologist with Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Jim Ozier, Environmental Affairs, Georgia Power, long-time sponsors of the Georgia Junior Duck program; Bob Sargent, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Debbie Bossie, Southeast Region Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife inspector (retired); and Greg Masson, Regional Environmental Quality/Spill/NRDAR Coordinator, Southeast Region USFWS.

Prizes and ribbons are also being given for the best student conservation message that expresses the spirit of what they learned while researching and planning for their Duck Stamp Contest artwork entry. This year’s winning conservation message was submitted by 12-year-old Aubrey Hairston, of Da Vinci Academy in Gainesville: “Something as simple as conserving the environment could do something as big as protecting our future”.

Junior Duck Stamps are sold by the U.S. Postal Service and Amplex Corporation consignees for $5 per stamp.  Proceeds from the sale of Junior Duck Stamps support conservation education, and provide awards and scholarships for students, teachers, and schools that participate in the program.

The Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest is open to all youth in grades Kindergarten through twelfth grade.  All participants receive a certificate of appreciation. To learn more about the Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest including a new curriculum and study guide for students, teachers and parents, visit the Service web site

For further information about the Junior Duck Stamp contest or the Fish and Wildlife Service, please contact Georgia Coordinator Carmen Simonton in the Division of Migratory Birds, (404) 679-7070 or by e-mail at

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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