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News Program Spotlight: Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp

Learn how to participate in the Junior Duck Stamp Program, a statewide art contest for K–12 students. Also, hear from a long-time JDS participant.
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Jenna Gormley, Junior Duck Stamp Program participant, with artwork

Junior Duck Stamp Program: Connecting youth with nature through science and art

K–12 students submit artwork for a statewide art contest. In the process, students gain awareness of the importance of preserving wetland habitats and the delights of wildlife.

Conservation through the arts

The Junior Duck Stamp Program (JDS), modeled after the Federal Duck Stamp, was launched in 1991 by the US Fish & Wildlife Service with the aim of increasing young people's awareness of the importance of preserving wetland habitats and the delights of wildlife. In 1992, the US Fish and Wildlife Service printed the first ever Junior Duck Stamp with the funds used to provide awards, incentives, and scholarships to participating students, teachers, and schools.

This dynamic conservation and design program is designed to teach wetland habitat and waterfowl conservation to students in kindergarten through high school. Using scientific and wildlife observation principles, the program helps students communicate visually what they have learned by creating an entry for the Junior Duck Stamp Program art contest. The non-traditional pairing of subjects brings new interest to both science and the arts and teaches greater awareness of our natural resources. The art is judged in four age group categories in a statewide competition, and the entry judged Best of Show moves on to represent Massachusetts in the national JDS competition, which will be hosted by Massachusetts in 2020.

DEADLINE: Artwork submissions must be postmarked by February 15 of each year.

For complete JDS program details visit,

Pam Landry, Wildlife Education Coordinator
(508) 389-6310

One Artist’s Journey with the Junior Duck Stamp Program by Jenna Gormley

When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with a receptive and expressive language disorder. I did not speak, so my form of communication was drawing pictures.

I entered my first piece of artwork in the Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) program 13 years ago. My journey started at the Jacob Edward Library on Main Street in Southbridge. They had a program to help children draw ducks for the JDS program, and my five-year-old, art-loving self wanted to draw my own duck. For the next 12 years, I worked hard to improve my artistic skills for each of my entries. I did improve each year, but I did not always receive an award.

Over those years, I was introduced to and experimented with a variety of art medium. My first ever JDS artwork was done in marker. At the age of nine, I started taking art lessons at Designs by Donna Olson and learned more about using pastels. While attending Mrs. Olson’s art classes, she taught me the importance of detail and realism; and I used either pastels and ink or pencil. At age 13, I used graphite pencil to draw my JDS entry, which was interesting and challenging because graphite pencils are not erasable since they will smudge. At the age of 16, I decided to do my entire JDS piece in black ink. I used a quilted pen for the details and I mixed the ink with water to change its opaqueness for the base. The following year, I took a high school painting class to learn new techniques that enhanced my abilities. For my final two entries, I used acrylic paint because that was my strongest medium at the time.

The JDS program has made me a better artist and person. The program got me outside, away from screens, and learning about wildlife in-person. I was also able to combine my passion for photography by observing waterfowl in their natural habitat, capturing their images, and then using those images as references for my JDS art. The program raises conservation awareness among youth and gets us involved with protecting wildlife and the wetlands they, and we, depend on. I have met such amazing people through the JDS program. They have changed my life in many ways, so thank you!

About the author: Jenna Gormley is a 2019 graduate of the Woodstock Academy in Woodstock, Connecticut and she is attending Wentworth Institute of Technology in pursuit of a Master's degree in Architecture. She is also well-versed in photography and pottery.

“One Artist’s Journey with the Junior Duck Stamp Program” by Jenna Gormley is featured in the newest issue of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine. Subscribe to Massachusetts Wildlife magazine today!

Jenna Gormley drawing at age 5
Jenna Gormley drawing at age 5
Mallard artwork submitted to JDS by Jenna Gormley, age 18
Mallard artwork submitted to JDS by Jenna Gormley, age 18


Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.