Where art and science collide

Each year, hundreds of talented young artists compete in the National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest. Duck art of all shapes, sizes, colors, and mediums are submitted for a chance to win the grand prize, national recognition, and to see their artwork proudly displayed on the National Junior Duck Stamp.

This dynamic contest is designed to combine the arts and sciences to teach students about wetlands, waterfowl, and natural resources. The goal is to connect students to nature and create a lifelong appreciation for wildlife conservation. Each year, Junior Duck Stamps with the winning image are sold for $5 each, the proceeds of which will support environmental education programs.

Once students submit their duck-inspired art pieces, they will be evaluated on anatomical accuracy, visual textures, shape, scale, clarity, design, and more! Students are encouraged to spend time observing ducks and their natural habitat and depict it in their work. In addition to submitting artwork, students also supply an original conservation message to encourage others to learn and participate in conservation.

Nicole Jeon’s acrylic painting of a harlequin duck. ©USFWS

This year, we’re proud to report that the top three winners are all from states in the Northeast Region! Nicole Jeon, 16, of Scarsdale, New York took top honors in the contest with her acrylic painting of a harlequin duck that she chose for its elegance and brightly colored feathers.

Nicole wins a different award for her artwork.

“For me, acrylic painting is the most comfortable way to paint because I can easily adjust volumes, depending on texture and shades. It’s much easier to change lighting in contrast to pastels, colored pencils, or oil painting.”

When asked what the most difficult part of her painting, Nicole said “All of it. Making the duck look realistic and truly come alive was difficult, but the water took much more patience. It took a long time making the water flow instead of looking like ice.”

In the future, Nicole plants to study art like her mother. She hopes one day she can be an art teacher or professor. During the Junior Duck Stamp Contest, Nicole also learned the value of conservation.

“At first I didn’t know what the Duck Stamp was all about, but once I learned that it supports conservation, it motivated me more to learn that my art could help support wildlife.”

Jasmine Kang, 16, of River Vale, New Jersey, took second place with an acrylic depiction of a wood duck. Jasmine attends the same art school as Nicole, and could not resist choosing the wood duck for its beauty and prominent red eye.

Jasmine’s acrylic painting of a wood duck called “Through the Haze.” ©USFWS

“I started learning digital art first, before learning to draw by hand. I never had much confidence in my drawings, and I used to be unsure about my interest in the arts. After I started attending Bon Art Studio, with the guidance of my teacher, my interest in art grew greatly, and drawing and painting became extremely fun and exciting. I was then introduced to the Junior Duck Stamp contest and decided to enter.”

Jasmine Kang

The most challenging part of Jasmine’s wood duck was depicting the different textures and shapes, especially the beak and feathers. She said the easiest part was the background. “I decided to portray a hazy, foggy sky look, hence the title, ‘Through the Haze’.”

“As for my future, I’m still not completely sure about what I would like to pursue. I am more of a math and science kind of person than anything else. However, whatever I pursue, I definitely want it to involve the arts in some way.”

In addition to her passion for art, Jasmine loves to tumble, and is a cheerleader for her high school. She also recently discovered a new hobby- longboarding!

Third place went to Paige Collins, 14, of Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, for a pastel rendition of a long-tailed duck. “I’ve entered the contest many times before because I love to draw and paint nature and wildlife. I also really enjoy picking out a duck every year! This year I was inspired by a reference photo that had a natural blue ring around the duck that framed it nicely.”

Paige’s pastel long-tailed duck. ©USFWS

“I have been wanting to pursue art as a career since second grade! I’m looking into graphic design, illustration, and possibly photography or interior design. I would also love to just sell my artwork for a living!”

Paige Collins

Paige is currently enrolled in a private acrylic class, but she is also a big reader, as fantasy and sci-fi are her favorites. Recently, she began playing the piano.

Congratulations to these talented young artists! We are very proud of all of the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest contestants and winners that participated this year. This Gallery of 2019 Best in Show Art showcases winning pieces from each state.

If you are considering participating next year, be sure to visit this site to find all the information you need to register.

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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Region

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Region

Conserving wildlife and habitats from Maine to Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania.