News Column

Ducks: Youth winners' duck stamp art on display

July 24, 2014

By Ann Reily, Gloucester Daily Times, Mass.



July 24--NEWBURYPORT -- The Custom House Maritime Museum has made way for ducklings -- and ducks, swans and geese.

The 100 winning entries from the Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp Program's statewide contest are on display through Aug. 17 in the hallway of the Newburyport museum.

"The artwork is really amazing, and we see it year after year," said Marion Larson, chief of information and education for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. "There are some very talented young people out there, and it's a great thing to see."

MassWildlife received 446 entries from schools and art studios for this year's contest, which closed in March. From there, the 9-by-12-inch drawings and paintings were narrowed down to 100 by a panel of five judges.

Three first-, second- and third-place entries and 16 honorable mentions are selected for each age group: kindergarten through third grade, fourth through sixth grades, seventh through ninth grades and 10th through 12th grades.

A "Best of Show" is then chosen from the 12 first-place winners and entered into the national Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest. This year's Massachusetts winner, Xiaomei Chen from Westford Academy, placed among the top 25 in the national contest for her acrylic of a trumpeter swan with cygnets.

Ariana Twomey, who hung the exhibit as part of her summer internship at the Custom House, said visitors have been particularly impressed with the artwork in the K-3 category.

"People have been humbled and awed by the talent of such a young age group," said Twomey, who will be a senior at Amherst College this fall. "And the talent and creativity doesn't drop off. It's a very impressive mosaic of Massachusetts' top student artists."

"It's eye candy," said Michael Mroz, executive director of the Custom House. "It opens your eyes to a level of dedication and talent."

Entering the contest is typically the culmination of a curriculum offered to public, private and home schools and other educational sites through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Students learn about wetlands and waterfowl conservation and study the anatomy and habitat of the birds before putting their knowledge to use through artwork.

"There are a lot of different ducks that you can choose from," Larson said. "It's not just the bird itself but thinking about the habitat or the place that it is or whatever it may be doing."

The 100 images in the stamp exhibit include various species of ducks, geese and swans swimming, flying, guiding young, resting in the marsh and even diving for food in one piece that has attracted a lot of attention.

"That's a great kind of image because you know that's not your classic profile that you'd see in a field guide," Larson said.

"They all tell a story," Mroz said. "You can almost see the personalities of the ducks involved."

The Custom House is the first stop for the traveling exhibit, which will go on to visit other places in the state through March. It is the first time that the museum has hosted the display, but Mroz intends to make it an annual tradition and thinks the region -- with its history of waterfowl hunting and natural bird habitats such as the Great Marsh that stretches into Cape Ann -- perfectly represents what the duck stamp program is all about.

"The ducks fit into an environment that is particularly unique here," he said. "I hope it inspires some locals to take their hand at this."

Larson also thinks that showing the exhibit in Newburyport could persuade more educators in the area to adopt the curriculum and encourage their students to enter the contest. Although there were no winners from Cape Ann or Greater Newburyport in this year's contest, there were five honorees from Bradford Christian Academy in Haverhill and one from Covenant Christian Academy in Peabody.

"We very much encourage teachers in the area to come see the exhibit and to consider including this in their teaching," Larson said.

The painting of a king eider by the winner of the national contest, Si Youn Kim of New Jersey, is the 2014-2015 Junior Duck Stamp that is available to purchase for $5 through the U.S. Postal Service, www.duckstamp.com and at wildlife refuges.

The Junior Duck Stamp Program was created in 1991 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a way to increase youths' awareness of the importance of preserving wetland habitats. In 1995, Massachusetts started its state program, which is sponsored by MassWildlife, the Massachusetts Wildlife Federation and the state chapter of Ducks Unlimited, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Money raised through the sale of the Federal Junior Duck Stamp is used to fund environmental education programs, award scholarships to the winning students and to expand the Junior Duck Stamp Program.

If you go What: Junior Duck Stamp Art Exhibition When: Through Aug. 17. Museum hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Where: Custom House Maritime Museum, 25 Water St., Newburyport Admission: $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and free for active military members and children under 6 More information: 978-462-8681 or www.thechmm.org Also on display The Custom House is celebrating Newburyport's 250th anniversary with its new exhibit "Revolutionary Newburyport." The story of the founding of Newburyport is linked to the founding of the United States, and the museum looks at that relationship by examining the lives of Newburyport individuals and the issues of the era.

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(c)2014 the Gloucester Daily Times (Gloucester, Mass.)

Visit the Gloucester Daily Times (Gloucester, Mass.) at www.gloucestertimes.com

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Source: Gloucester Daily Times (MA)


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