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As the ducks and geese disappear from the northern plains on their migration flight south, their images will start appearing in the art created by area students for the North Dakota Junior Duck Stamp Contest.
Jane Kalmbach of Dakota-Blessings Studio in Kenmare and Jennifer Jewett, education and outreach coordinator stationed at the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, are excited about meeting with students interested in the program.
They should be. In 2011, her second year with the program, Kalmbach submitted 127 entries from students in grades 1 through 12, including four seniors from Powers Lake who were enthusiastic about the new art opportunity. Kalmbach also worked with students from Kenmare, Bowbells, Stanley, Tioga, Minot and Minot Air Force Base.
Several of the young artists who studied with her placed or received honorable mention awards in their age divisions, including a group of Kenmare sixth graders who claimed almost all the state awards in their level. None of her students has won the overall “Best of Show” award--yet--but Kalmbach believes it’s just a matter of time.
“The more experience they have, each year they can just keep building on it,” she said. “Can you imagine what they’ll be doing in the coming years?”
“Some kids have a tradition about submitting to the contest,” added Jewett. “You can do it every year until you’re out of school.”
Coincidentally, all those entries from this region of the state, which had been under-represented in the Junior Duck Stamp Contest, pushed the total number of entries to well over 900 for 2011. That was best year ever for the Junior Duck Stamp Contest, according to Jewett, who serves as one of the state coordinators for the event.
“And 2012 will be our 20th annual North Dakota Junior Duck Stamp Contest,” she added. “If we could get to a thousand entries, that would be awesome.”
Kalmbach will start a new round of Junior Duck Stamp art classes this month, mostly likely with the Kenmare fourth graders. “I’ve had some of the older kids ask me about it already,” she said. She wants to work with at least 15 classes for the 2012 contest and hopes young artists in the Berthold and Lignite areas will get involved for the first time this year.
All the entries are due to the state contest by March 15, 2012. Prizes are awarded to artists who place in the state competition, with additional awards and scholarships for entries that advance to the national level.
The opportunity for area youth to participate in the program, free of charge, is paid by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grant totalling $4,000, which covers instructional materials and supplies, as well as advertising, postage for contest entries, and Kalmbach’s instructional and travel expenses.
Jewett emphasized that the program’s success extends beyond the grant, however, as the USFWS essentially partners with area school districts and teachers to offer the art and conservation lessons. “And then there’s Kenmare Veterans Club, Inc.,” she added, “which made a donation last year to pay the banquet and motel expenses for the first, second and third place winners from our area and their families at the awards banquet held in April.”
Jewett also noted the importance of Kalmbach and the role of DakotaBlessings Studio. “Because we have Jane working with us, we have a great partner with the USFWS to promote the program,” Jewett said. “She knows the communities and she gets the kids involved, and the number of entries has increased. She’s a very valuable asset to the artists and to us.”
art and conservation
The Junior Duck Stamp program is modeled on the federal duck stamp program, with all waterfowl hunters in the nation required to purchase a federal duck stamp to support habitat restoration and conservation projects. The national Junior Duck Stamp winner is featured on its own stamp each year, with proceeds from those sales used to support conservation education and provide awards and scholarships to students, teachers and schools that participate in the annual contest.
“It’s not just about the art,” said Jewett. “The program teaches students about habitat and wildlife conservation. When the kids put their art and message together, what they feel about conservation, it makes them think about what they’re doing.”
She quoted the late Sam Hamilton, a former director of the USFWS: “At a time when children are increasingly over-scheduled and overwhelmed with electronic gadgets and media, the Junior Duck Stamp program helps them discover the value and joy in exploring their natural world.”
Jewett and Kalmbach both strongly support that mission. “Our youth are our future,” said Jewett, “and our mission with the USFWS is to preserve these special wild places for the present and future generations. If we don’t get the message out there about what the USFWS does, we’re not doing our job. I hope the program causes some sort of spark in that child that makes them tell their parents, ‘Let’s go out to the refuge!’”
“Being out on this refuge every day, I want the kids to value and appreciate it,” said Kalmbach, who walks regularly on the Canada Goose Trail and the
Kalmbach also sees the Junior Duck Stamp program as a way for the kids to participate in an activity truly open to all students. “This art contest does not discriminate,” she said. “You don’t have to have money to enter it, you don’t have to be the best basketball player, you don’t have to be a straight A student, you don’t have to be a fabulous artist or have any art experience. You just have to want to try and create and realize you have so much potential.”
She paused and laughed before adding, “That, and your parent’s signature for the entry!”
Students who take part in Kalmbach’s art sessions can choose to work in colored pencil, watercolor or pastels. They select a bird species to draw from a list of eligible waterfowl provided for the contest, and they are given suggested websites and reference materials to research their bird and its habitat before starting their artwork.
Kalmbach was encouraged by the students’ response to the research assignment last year. “They came to class ready with what they wanted to do,” she said. “Many of them had photo references and habitat information to make their duck picture as real as possible.”
Refuge will host
sessions for students
Most area students will have the opportunity to prepare entries for the 2012 North Dakota Junior Duck Stamp program at school, with Kalmbach as a guest artist.
The Des Lacs NWR will also host sessions with Kalmbach on Thursday, November 17th, and Monday, November 28th, from 3:45 to 5 pm for students in grades 7 through 12 who want to work on their entries. These sessions are free to students, with all materials provided. Interested students should call Kalmbach at 701-385-4528 to register for either or both dates.
“Students should keep watching The Kenmare News and the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page for more programs in the area,” said Jewett. “They can come to multiple programs, to finish their art or to prepare more than one picture and then choose the best one to enter.”
Additional information about the Junior Duck Stamp program can be found online at www.fws.gov/juniorduck or on the Des Lacs refuge’s Facebook site. Interested parents and students are also welcome to call Jewett at refuge headquarters, 701-385-4046 ext. 221.