Park Rapids student wins Minnesota Junior Duck Stamp Contest
Julia Johnson, a senior, became the fifth Park Rapids High School student to win the Minnesota Junior Duck Stamp Contest.
Results of the contest were announced this week. Johnson's painting of a greater white-fronted goose won first place in the grades 10-12 category and "Best of Show."
The Junior Duck Stamp Program is an arts and science curriculum designed to teach youth about waterfowl and their habitat needs. Any K-12 student attending public, private or homeschool may enter the competition. Artwork must depict native North American species — like teal, wood ducks, trumpeter swans, geese or mergansers — in their natural habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides the complete list of eligible waterfowl species.
All artwork must be an original, hand-drawn creation. No tracing or copying from photographs or other artists' work is allowed. Each student is encouraged to write a short conservation message.
Johnson entitled her artwork "Serenity in the Sky." Her message was "In places of conservation, tranquility is most evident."
She selected the greater white-fronted goose because "I'm a hunter myself, and when we went out on our trip last year or so, my stepdad was talking about how pretty they were and how he thought they were a gorgeous bird."
After researching the bird, Johson determined it would be a good topic for a painting because of the different designs on the breast of the bird.
Johnson has been painting since her sophomore year. Recognizing her talent, art teacher Mike Hartung urged her to continue taking painting courses.
"In middle school, I actually hated art," she confessed.
She began painting her 11-by-14-inch stamp contest entry in October, continuing through late February.
During the state contest, artwork was judged in four groups according to grade level: K-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. Three first, three second and three third place entries, along with 16 honorable mentions were selected from each group.
Contest judges selected Johnson's work as "Best of Show," which will be submitted to the Federal Duck Stamp Office in Washington, D.C. and entered into the 2019 National Junior Duck Stamp Contest.
Hartung surprised Johnson with a pep fest in her honor Monday afternoon.
The state win was a shock to Johnson.
"I knew it was good, but I never thought of myself highly. I just thought I would do my best. Whatever came of it, I would be proud of myself either way. I liked the end result, and I worked super hard on it," she said.
In late April, a panel of five national judges will review the "Best of Show" artwork from all 50 states and choose one winner to appear on the Junior Duck Stamp.
Proceeds from the sale of the $5 colorful stamp are invested into the Junior Duck Stamp Program to support conservation education.