US Stamps

Hooded merganser painting on 2023 junior duck stamp

May 1, 2023, 8 AM
An acrylic painting of a hooded merganser by 15-year-old Mila Linyue Tong will illustrate the United States 2023 junior duck stamp to be issued June 23. Image courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

By Charles Snee

Virginia artist Mila Linyue Tong’s acrylic painting of a hooded merganser with a freshly caught fish in its beak has been chosen to appear on the 2023 junior duck stamp. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced the winning artwork April 21.

A panel of five judges picked the 15-year-old’s painting for the top honor from among 53 entries in this year’s National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest.

“The top piece of art in the nation — chosen at this annual competition — is featured on the Junior Duck Stamp, sales of which support educational programs and activities that nurture our next generation of conservationists,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Junior duck stamps are issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and are listed in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers following the listings for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s migratory bird hunting and conservation stamps, more commonly known as federal duck stamps.

“The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program began in 1989 as an extension of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said. The first junior duck stamp was issued in 1993.

The junior duck stamps sell for $5 each at the U.S. Postal Service’s online postal store and select national wildlife refuges. The money collected is used for conservation education, including awards and student scholarships.

Tong received $1,000 for her first-place win. Arianna Sun, 14, of Georgia earned a second-place prize of $500 for her oil painting of a cinnamon teal. Emily Lian, 16, of Oregon won $200 for her oil portrayal of a pair of mallards, which placed third.

Grace Cao, 13, of Texas received $200 for winning the conservation message competition with “Never duck the chance of conservation.”

Jerome Ford, assistant director for migratory birds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said, “This is the first in-person Junior Duck Stamp National Contest since 2019, and what a thrill it is to see this amazing artwork in person and celebrate these young people with all different backgrounds and interests from all over the country.”

The junior duck stamp and the federal duck stamp will both be issued June 23.

Minnesota artist Joseph Hautman’s acrylic painting of three tundra swans in flight will be illustrated on the 2023 federal duck stamp. Hautman’s work has appeared on five previous duck stamps.

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