Duck Stamps; Junior Version

I’m not much of an artist but a bunch of Kentucky kids apparently are, especially when in comes to drawing ducks.

That was the impression last week at the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery near Jamestown, Ky., where five adults spend more than three hours wading through 1,113 entries in the Kentucky junior duck stamp competition.

I was not one of the judges.

They finally pared the 1,000 plus down a top 12, then chose five, then – after a prolonged discussion that include a few minutes of research comparing the colored pencil created ducks with will full glossy photos in a waterfowl identification book – they decided on a ruddy duck that’d been sketched and colored by a Boone County, Ky., 16-year-old.

Some of the submissions resembled kindergarten colorings because that’s what they were (the competition was open to kindergarten through 12th grade). Others, however, were dazzling in their accuracy, colors and detail, including the ruddy duck submission (pictured) that was named Best of Show.

The Kentucky state winner collected $250 for her efforts and her artwork will represent her state in the national junior duck stamp competition in April, where the winner will pocket $5,000.

But the program isn’t about winnings or admiration.

It’s about pulling kids away from Facebook and their iPods; getting them to turn off the TV and shut down the computer and go outside. That’s the opinion of James Gray. He manages the federal Wolf Creek trout hatchery and hosted last week’s judging. The USFWS oversees the administers the Junior Duck Stamp Program.

“All of the kids that entered into the contact thought – at least for a few minutes – about ducks and conservation and education,” Gray said. “That’s what this is all about.”

More about the junior duck stamp program at\juniorduck.