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Students create intricate duck paintings for national contest

Park Rapids Area High School students spent more than 50 hours each on paintings for the Junior Duck Stamp Contest. From left are Danny Pike, Alexander Renner, Alli Belfiori, Cassidy Haggard, Lydia Schaum and Luke Swenson. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Six Park Rapids students have been working tediously on paintings of ducks in hopes of having their art transformed into a collectible stamp.

The Junior Duck Stamp Contest is one of the largest art competitions in Minnesota, said Michael Hartung, Park Rapids Area High School art teacher.

It is the 18th year of the competition and Park Rapids has had three state winners during that time, he said.

More than 1,000 students generally enter the contest in Minnesota, Hartung said. Whoever is chosen as the state winner goes on to the national competition.

The students looked through photos for inspiration before starting their paintings that depict ducks in their natural habitat. They used oil paint.

It was not a simple task to complete the 9-by-12 inch artwork.

Alli Belfiori, a junior at Park Rapids Area High School, is submitting a painting of a Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola).

"I picked it because it's not like all the others, it's not as common a species," she said. "Judges look for those."

She spent nearly 70 hours on the painting.

Other Park Rapids students participating in this year's contest are Alexander Renner, Danny Pike, Luke Swenson, Lydia Schaum and Cassidy Haggard.

Paintings will be completed by the end of the week and sent in to be judged at the state contest.

Students from around the United States submit drawings to their state, territory or district competition. Winners from these competitions, called the "Best of Show," are submitted to the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest. The winner at this level becomes the Junior Duck Stamp.

The entry requirements are incredibly detailed and scenes are supposed to depict birds in their natural habitat. Feather colors should be appropriate to the time of the year depicted by the environment. Junior Duck Stamps are sold for $5 each by the U.S. Postal Service and at various National Wildlife Refuges. Proceeds from the sale of Junior Duck Stamps are returned to states for environmental and conservation education programs.

For more information about the Junior Duck Stamp Contest, go to the Web site,

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561