Their ages ranged from five to eighteen, and their waterfowl paintings covered the spectrum, too, but all the entries in this year’s Maine Junior Duck Stamp challenge had one thing in common. They all embodied the spirit of the program—the value of wetland and waterfowl conservation.
This federal program encourages students to explore their natural world, invites them to investigate biology and wildlife management principles, and challenges them to express and share what they have learned with others through an art contest. This “conservation through the arts” program uses the winning artwork as the basis for the $5 Junior Duck Stamp. Revenue supports environmental education activities for participants.
Coordinated in Maine by Maine Audubon and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the program faced challenges this year due to the pandemic. With more teachers in hybrid or remote settings, Maine Audubon educator Linda Woodard organized virtual programs to connect teachers and students to artists and biologists. Kirstin Underwood, Fish and Wildlife Biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, provided background information on water fowl and conservation. Artists Michael Boardman and Rebekah Lowell offered insights, tips, and tricks on creating artwork that is both scientifically accurate and beautiful.
Pandemic precautions presented some challenges to the judging as well, but the five judges still were able to view the artwork in person thanks in part to the work of volunteers Joanne Bartlett, Richard Duddy, and Marc Guimont. On March 26, the judges gathered at Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm Audubon Center to evaluate all the entries.
Moving one at a time, from one room to another, to keep distant, the judges looked at almost 400 entries. Though this number is fewer than last year, considering the challenges teachers are facing this year, it was an impressive turnout.
The panel included Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist Doug Hitchcox, artists Michael Boardman and Sherrie York, Peggy Page, and USFWS biologist Kirstin Underwood. For each of the four age group categories, they chose three First Place winners, three Second Place winners, three Third Place winners, and Honorable Mentions. They also chose one overall Best in Show as well as a Best in Show Conservation Message.
Winners will be announced Monday, April 5, so check our Junior Duck Stamp webpage for winners and art work!