Junior Duck Stamp Program (FWS)

The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program (JDS), a program of the US Fish & Wildlife Service at the Department of the Interior, is a dynamic arts curriculum that teaches wetlands and waterfowl conservation to students in kindergarten through high school. The program incorporates scientific and wildlife management principles into a visual arts curriculum with participants completing a JDS design as their visual “term papers”.

The JDS has increased in popularity significantly since its inception in 1989 and moreover since the implementation of a national art contest and stamp in 1993. The program was first recognized by Congress in 1994 when the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act was enacted. In 2000, Congress reauthorized the program and expanded it from seventeen states to include student participants in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. 

Participation in the program nationwide has remained steady since 2000 with over 28,000 students entering a state art contest each year. While the program’s data collection methods do not account for students who participate in curriculum activities without submitting artwork, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of students have been educated on the importance of waterfowl and wetlands conservation since the enactment of the 1994 legislation. Revenue from the sales of the JDS reached $172,000 in Fiscal Year 2004 and go to support awards and environmental education for students who participate in the program as well as efforts to market the JDS.

STEM Ed Initiatives: 

Preparation for the Junior Duck Stamp contest and involvement in the program requires students to think about and understand at least the fundamental principles of anatomy and environmental science and can be a valid barometer of a student’s grasp of these topics. The program also provides an opportunity for students to learn science and express their knowledge of the beauty, diversity, and interdependence of wildlife artistically. In fact, preparation for the program often includes a visit to a National Wildlife Refuge- a prime location for not only observation of our nation’s wildlife, but also for experimentation and hands on experiences in hundreds of visitor centers located within the refuges.

The Junior Duck Stamp contest begins each spring when students submit their artwork to a state or territory contest. Students at the state level are judged in four groups according to grade level: Group I: K-3, Group II: 4-6, Group III: 7-9, and Group IV 10-12. Three first, second and third place entries are selected for each group. A “Best of Show” is selected by the judges from the twelve first-place winners regardless of their grade group. Each state or territory Best of Show is then submitted to the Duck Stamp Office and entered into the national Junior Duck Stamp Contest. To further the interdisciplinary underpinnings of the program, students are now encouraged, but not required, to include a conservation message on their entry form with their art design. The conservation message is judged in some states and at the national level for Best of Show winners. The message should explain something the student has learned about wetlands habitat, conservation or waterfowl. It may also be a statement used to encourage others to participate in conservation.

The first place design from the national contest is used to create a Junior Duck Stamp for the following year. 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 Stamp support conservation education, and provide awards and scholarships for the students, teachers, and schools that participate in the program.

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