This September, some of the best wildlife artists across the nation will vie for the chance to have their work featured on a conservation stamp that raises approximately $25 million a year to support wetland conservation.
Each year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sponsors the Federal Duck Stamp Art contest, the only federally sponsored competition of its kind. This year, the Service is partnering with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University to bring the contest to Philadelphia. Art entries will be displayed and judging will take place at the Academy on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9 and 10. Academy staff will present live animal shows and crafts where children can make their own duck stamp to take home.
The contest is free and open to the public; on Sept. 9 and 10; admission to the Academy on those days will also be free. This is the first time in the contest’s 61-year history that the Federal Duck Stamp Contest will be held in Pennsylvania.
“Philadelphia is alive with American history, a vibrant arts and culture scene and a rich conservation heritage, so it’s an ideal place to hold the Federal Duck Stamp Contest,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “We appreciate the support of our partners, especially those at the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Friends of Heinz Refuge, who are critical in our efforts to educate and engage the city’s residents and young people in wildlife conservation through environmental education and the arts.”
The contest comes to Philadelphia during the centennial year of the Migratory Bird Treaty, an important milestone in bird conservation that connects the Service with government, nonprofit, and international partners who share a long, successful history of conserving, protecting, and managing migratory bird populations and their habitats.
“The Academy is so pleased to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring this contest to Philadelphia,” said Academy President and CEO George W. Gephardt, Jr. “As a major center for ornithological research and collection, we’re thrilled to be able to present these artworks to our museum visitors and to encourage all to be stewards of the environment.”
The winning design chosen on Sept. 10 will be made into the 2017-2018 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp – commonly known as the Duck Stamp – which is the cornerstone of one of the world’s most successful habitat conservation programs.
The $25 stamp is a vital tool for conservation; ninety-eight cents of every dollar generated by stamp sales helps to purchase or lease wetland habitat for national wildlife refuges, including Philadelphia’s own John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum.
Every waterfowl hunter age 16 or older is required to purchase and carry a current Federal Duck Stamp. The stamps are also highly sought after by collectors, conservationists, and wildlife art connoisseurs. Duck Stamps also provide free admission to any national wildlife refuge that charges an entrance fee. There is at least one national wildlife refuge in every state and many within driving distance of major urban areas.
Since the Duck Stamp’s inception in 1934, more than $800 million has been raised, supporting the protection of more than 5.7 million acres of habitat on hundreds of refuges across the nation to conserve America’s fish and wildlife resources. National wildlife refuges benefit waterfowl, as well as hundreds of other bird species, and many refuges are open to hunting, fishing, wildlife watching and photography, and environmental education and interpretive programming.
This summer, the Service will host events throughout Philadelphia to raise awareness about the stamp and its importance to conservation.
Photos by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service