SANIBEL, Fla. - A statewide competition with ties to a national contest has set a record in Florida this year. The annual Florida Junior Duck Stamp Competition received more than 3,000 entries from schools across the state.
The annual competition is judged each year at the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. It originated on the island in 1989 and has grown into a national contest for children and teenagers.
"They're amazing," says park ranger Becky Wolff, state coordinator for the Florida competition.
"When I go into schools and teach them how to draw a duck, I tell them to start with a circle for the head and an oval for the body. Then I get their entries... They have such amazing talent."
On Thursday, all 3,090 entries will be judged in the course of one day. Judges include professional artists, wildlife biologists, and special guests. WINK News anchor Cayle Thompson will be among the panelists for the second year in a row.
There are multiple winners at the state level, and every student receives some form of recognition for their contribution. But only one student will be selected to attend the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Competition. As with the adult competition, the nation's top student artwork will be featured on a national stamp. The student will also receive a $5,000 scholarship.
Last year's state winner was from Lehigh Acres, and went on to be a finalist at the national level, placing higher than any Florida entry in the history of the competition.