The Federal Duck Stamp Contest

Tundra Swans on the Water. (Creative Commons)

As another year comes to a close, a truly spectacular contest takes place. Unknown to many, the Federal Duck Stamp Contest is a competition in which a relatively small number of incredible artists submit their paintings of various ducks and swans for judging. Carried out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this contest chooses which art piece will be pictured on the stamps each year. The program itself, which sells the duck stamps, raises approximately 40 million dollars each year to help conserve vital wetland habitats in our National Wildlife Refuge System. 

This year, Joseph Hautman once again won the competition. Chosen out of 187 submitted pieces, his depiction of tundra swans flying over a wetland gained him his 6th win, tying the record with his brother, Jim Hautman. This does not come as a surprise to many seasoned competitors, as Joseph Hautman and his two brothers have each won multiple times, tallying up to a remarkable 15 wins with this newest addition. 

This contest is attractive for artists who wish to gain notoriety as they become a part of this conservation legacy. The program reveals a new list of eligible birds to draw each year, which ensures that the artists are given the same amount of time to create their art. Despite only 54 making it to the final judging this year, each and every art piece is appreciated, not only for their beauty, but also for their commitment to helping protect the lands that house these incredible creatures.