The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service held their annual awards ceremony for the Junior Stuck Stamp Contest finalist at the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday the 12th of May. It was a lovely day for an outdoor ceremony with beautiful artwork on display for all to enjoy. The Junior Duck Stamp Contest has been around since 1989 and has helped to bring science and art curriculum together. Just last year, Marilyn Gamette helped enhance the JDS program by suggesting that they also honor teachers with outstanding effort in teaching about wildlife conservation.
Jessica Stuivenberg and Sherrie Taylor Vann were among the few teachers chosen for this award.
While at the awards ceremony both women were asked to mention how they incorporate conservation education in to their already busy teaching schedule. Their dedication is evident in the list of activities they organize and create for their school and classrooms.
Each fall they begin by teaching their students how to write a research paper about an animal that lives in at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge in Willows. The students are really interested because these are animals that they can see in their natural settings. To follow up all of third grade takes a field trip to the refuge where they go on a scavenger hunt, bus tour, watch a video about the refuge system, and learn more about animal adaptations. Around the same time of year they invite presenters from the California Waterfowl Association into their classrooms to introduce the Junior Duck Stamp contest and further educate the students about local wildlife and their habitats.
In recent years participation has risen in the contest. This year there were 3500 student entries from children across California. 270 teachers had their students participate and the California Best of Show was earned by 17 year old Hyun Wang from Torrance, CA. Her artwork went on to place third at the national level. She has earned a $2000 scholarship for her design. ■