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National Junior Duck Stamp Contest Flying High in Colorado

The Junior Duck Stamp Program is in full flight for 2016, and all of Colorado's K-12 students are eligible to participate. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
The Junior Duck Stamp Program is in full flight for 2016, and all of Colorado's K-12 students are eligible to participate. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
February 19, 2016

DENVER - Junior Duck Stamp season is heating up with the March 15 deadline just around the corner.

After studying waterfowl anatomy and habitat, students draw or paint a picture of their favorite North American bird. The "Best of Show" selections from each state are submitted to national judges, and the top three artists receive scholarships.

State contest coordinator Seth Beres said the program is a big hit with Colorado kids.

"Their eyes beam when they learn what they can do," he said. "The actual winner, the best in the entire nation, goes on an actual $5 stamp."

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the contest's sponsor, many students who participated over the years have become full-time wildlife artists and conservation professionals. More than 2,400 students submitted works in 2015, hoping to make the cover of the $5 stamp, which helps fund education and conservation. This year's entries must be postmarked by March 15.

Bares said more than 500 students participated in Colorado last year, and 100 won prizes - ranging from art supplies to wildlife magazine subscriptions. But he said the program's real value is tapping kids' natural curiosity about wildlife and the outdoors, and the confidence they gain expressing themselves creatively.

"It's a wonderful educational opportunity for kids between grades kindergarten through high school that encourages students to explore their natural world," he said. "It challenges them to express and share what they've learned with others through arts, which is a rare program."

Bares said the program comes with a variable science curriculum that matches every age level, and all of the state's K-through-12 students are eligible to participate. For more information and a complete set of rules, visit fws.gov.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO