The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce 13-year-old Catelyn Ambrose from Trenton, Tennessee won Best of Show in the 2023 Tennessee Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest with her colored pencil portrayal of a male hooded merganser. The contest was held March 23rd at the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge in Union City, TN.
Catelyn’s 2023 entry will be sent to the national level, where her entry will compete with other state best of show winners on April 21st at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation and Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV.
The winner of this national competition will become the 2023-2024 Federal Junior Duck Stamp, which is sold for $5 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the national sponsors of the contest.
Also entered in Tennessee’s twenty eighth Junior Duck Stamp Contest were 1,657 individuals in four different age group categories. The other eleven finalists and first place winners in their category included Blakeleigh Daugherty and Jackson Ruff from Bolivar TN, Katelyn Vega from Henry TN, Grace Li from Brentwood TN, Robert Blair from Jackson TN, Sarah Liang from Murfreesboro TN, Logan Mariutto from Nashville TN, Joselyn Johnson from LaFollette TN, Alex Fawcett from Toone TN, Savannah Miller from Paris TN, and Jessie Hindman from Chattanooga TN.
Ribbons and other prizes were presented to the top 100 winners at an awards ceremony hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of West Tennessee National Wildlife Refuges on Saturday, April 15th at the Discovery Park of American in Union City, TN. A meal was served inside the Discovery Park’s infamous Dino Hall at 5:30 pm by the Willow Tree from Troy TN, sponsored by the Obion County Tourism Committee, and the awards ceremony began at 6:00 p.m. Ms. Ambrose received the $1000.00 Jeanette Rudy scholarship provided by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation along with other prizes including a framed Federal Duck Stamp Print provided by Ducks Unlimited.
The winner of the Conservation Message Award was Maximilian Goldsmith from Bumpus Mills, TN who wrote: “The conservation of wildlife and their habitats protects every aspect of life, including our own.”
The following day, a Family Fun Day was held at the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge where all 100 winners and their families were invited to enjoy canoeing, archery, a reptile and amphibian hike, and a live bird of prey and snake presentation.
The Tennessee Jr. Duck Stamp program is an art contest managed by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. Its Tennessee partners include the Discovery Park of America, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, Friends of West Tennessee National Wildlife Refuges and Ducks Unlimited. The judges for this year’s contest were Seth Dortch of Rough Country, Eric Keszler of Ducks Unlimited, Michelle Williams of the University of TN at Martin, Amy Snider-Spencer of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Ashley Cathey of the West TN National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
In Tennessee, the previous year’s Best of Show entries from this contest have been made into a state waterfowl collector stamp available from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. All of these stamps can be purchased at a cost of $11 per stamp by calling (615) 781-6585 or visiting https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/collectible-stamps.html.
The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest is not only an art contest. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers this a major outreach program to teach youth about the importance of waterfowl and wetlands conservation. As each student chooses a waterfowl subject for their entry, they are encouraged to learn about that bird and its requirements for survival. A Junior Duck Stamp curriculum guide is available to educators and home school students that focuses on conservation messages and can be found at https://www.fws.gov/program/junior-duck-stamp/junior-duck-stamp-conservation-education-curriculum.
For more information about this program, to obtain a copy of the free curriculum, or to purchase a Junior Duck Stamp, call the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge at 731-538-2481. Images of all Tennessee Jr. Duck Stamp winners can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WestTennNWRC.