The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program is soaring high in schools throughout Florida. This year 1,793 K-12 students from 38 Florida schools and homeschools participated in the national contest.
The Junior Duck Stamp contest was created by Jaye Boswell at the Sanibel School (then Sanibel Elementary School) in 1989 and adopted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 1992. This year celebrates the 20th anniversary of the contest. The program is a take-off of the annual Federal Duck Stamp competition started by Jay N. "Ding" Darling in 1934. Last year more than 28,000 students from across the country learned the importance of protecting wetland environments to waterfowl management practices and other wildlife conservation methods while participating in the Junior Duck Stamp art contest.
"Morning Pair" is the title of the 2012 Florida Best of Show masterpiece. The portrait was created by 17-year-old Jefferson Jones of Lehigh Acres, FL.
The artwork is an acrylic painting and depicts a pair of Fulvous Whistling Ducks. Jones' painting will compete against the other 53 Best of Show artworks in the National Junior Duck Stamp contest finals on Friday, April 20, 2012, at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, MD. If Jones' entry places among the top three, he could earn a cash prize. The first place national winner's artwork will be made into the 2012-2013 National Junior Duck Stamp that sells for $5, and the winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize.
Jones' attends the Sacred Heart of Jesus Private School in Lehigh Acres. With guidance from local artists, carvers, and his family, Jones' has been able to win the Florida Best of Show title for the past three years. Jones' passion for art and wildlife is highlighted in the conservation message that accompanied his painting: "Do not alter the plans of the master artist."
An awards ceremony will be held on October 20, 2012, from 1-3pm during the annual "Ding" Darling Days celebration at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Florida's winning students will receive ribbons and prizes sponsored by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society.
All 100 Florida winner's artwork will be on display at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Education Center for the entire year. All Florida participants will receive a certificate of completion in the 2012 Junior Duck Stamp Art competition.
The 100 Florida Junior Duck Stamp winners are as follows:
Group 1 (K-3rd grade)
- 1st Place: Alexia Paz, Jordan Peluso, Orianna Soublette
- 2nd Place: Alex Shnider, Emily Rundle, Jackson Brunsvolo
- 3rd Place: Jake Roberts, Ambrynn Julius, Jimmy Bui
Honorable Mention: Mackenzie Cash, Boris Bell Garth, Colin Stalnaker, Kailyn Bryant, Danielle Kennedy, Eddie Diaz, Morgan Burdinsky, Cadence Alford, Connor Naum, Alaia Vilbrun, Trista Makin, Jordyn Duffery, Jaidyn Houghtaling, Macy Ward, Anna Lynn Rigney, Jerald "Alden" Kaufmann
Group 2 (4th 6th grade)
- 1st Place: Delaney Carr, Brendan Beaubien, Leah Sodergren
- 2nd Place: Olivia Bomar, Francesca Cocilovo, Olivia Smolchek
- 3rd Place: Madison Root, Joshua Peluso, Alessandra Bellagamba
- Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Levin, Lesley Teran, Jill Rooney, Haley Johnston, Brandon Stalnaker, Chloe Oesterreicher, Cheyenne Skipper, Jocelyn Diaz, Audrey Berlie, Loren Scott, Jamie Lerchower, Claire Woolam, Travis Johnson, Noelle Fleig, Jackie Floyd, Anna Hahn
Group 3 (7th 9th grade)
- 1st Place: Haley Keller, Kalee Gaskin, Zaira Garcia
- 2nd Place: Jennifer Gravitt, Victoria Rivero, Lilly Hahn
- 3rd Place: Catherine Parra, Skyler Lowden, Erika Hernandez
- Honorable Mention: Dana Guillot, Sara Saintil, Melissa Rodriguez, Joshua Ellis, Natalie Rolls, Jean Francois Nervens, Jessica Lopez, Matthew Bueltel , Cristian Cruz, Anna Chazal, Karen Osorio, Alicia Rojas-Hinojosa, Oscar Tecuanapa, Jennifer Rendon, Bethstyline Chery, Jorge Morales Jr.
Group 4 (10th 12th grade)
- 1st Place: Jefferson Jones (Best of Show), Ashley Bowersox, Katherine McLelland
- 2nd Place: Micaela Neal, Ivan Garcia, Rebekah James
- 3rd Place: Taylor Radaker, Dianarra Arceo, Viviana Hernandez
- Honorable Mention: Jasmine Holmes, Haydon Stone, Mikayla Withers, Michelle Brooks, Taren Taylor, Shuhan Li, Alexia Colon, Evana Marquez, Miranda Baumgartner, Nonnie Kleiner ,Taylor Fenstemacher, Erica Pagano, Rochelle Wikert, Sarah Waitekus, Chambers Alivia, Heather Proskovec
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies. Visit the Service's website at www.fws.gov."