AUGUSTA – The 13th annual state Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest is under way. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites students in grades kindergarten to 12 to create designs featuring ducks, swans or geese in their natural habitats.

Designs are judged in four age categories, with awards for first, second and third places and honorable mentions. Entries must be postmarked by March 15, 2008.

The Maine Best of Show entry will compete with contest winners from other states in a national competition. The first-place national winning design is used to create the Federal Junior Duck Stamp.

Proceeds from the sale of junior duck stamps (which cost $5 each) support conservation education by providing awards and scholarships for students, teachers and schools.

The 2007 Best of Show for Maine was a pair of wood ducks by Brianna Dostie of Greene.

Modeled after the service’s annual federal duck stamp competition, the junior duck stamp contest is part of an educational curriculum that teaches students about waterfowl, the importance of wetlands and conservation.

Proceeds from the sale of federal duck stamps protect wetlands by adding them to the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Contest rules and entry packets will be mailed to all schools within the next few weeks and are available for download at Children who are homeschooled are also eligible. A display of last year’s winning artwork is available to organizations who would like to promote the contest.

For more information on the contest and the display, call Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge at 646-9226. Businesses or organizations who would like to sponsor the program are encouraged to contact the service at the number.

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