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Alaska Federal Junior Duck Stamp Competition


     Our family has been participating in the Junior Duck Stamp competition since 2001. The following pictures are all the children's entries.
Following the pictures is an article written by Aurora that was published in the December 2007 issue of Postmasters Gazette which tells the story of  our  involvement with the Junior Duck Stamp competition in Alaska.
We have giclee prints of Aurora's Northern Shovelers and Hooded Mergansers for sale.
Some of the original works can be seen in our studio.
      Aurora's Entries
Harlequin Duck Oldsquaw Northern Shovelers Barrow's Goldeneye Hooded Mergansers
Harlequin Duck
2001 Alaska Best of Show
1
Oldsquaw
2002
1st Place Grades 7-9
Northern Shovelers
2003 Alaska Best of Show
3
Barrow's Goldeneyes
2004 Alaska Best of Show
4
Hooded Mergansers
2005 Alaska Best of Show
National Top Ten
      Barnabas's Entries
Blue-winged Teal Steller's Eider Northern Pintail Spectacled Eider
Blue-winged Teal
2002 Honorable Mention   Grades 4-6
Steller's Eider
2003
 2nd Place Grades 7-9
Northern Pintail
2004
2nd Place Grades 7-9
Spectacled Eider
2005
2nd Place Grades 7-9
     Sarah's Entries
Mallard King Eider Redhead Green-winged Teal Northern Pintails
Mallard
2002 Honorable Mention
 Grades 4-6
King Eider
2003
3rd Place Grades 4-6
Redhead
2004
3rd Place Grades 4-6
Green-winged Teal
2005
2nd Place Grades 7-9
Northern Pintails
2006
1st Place Grades 7-9
Cinnamon Teal Widgeons Blue-winged Teals Wood Ducks
Cinnamon Teal
2007 Alaska Best of Show
National Top Ten
American Widgeons
2008 Alaska Best of Show
National Top Ten
Blue-winged Teals
2009 Alaska Best of Show
.
Wood Ducks
2010 Alaska Best of Show

     Silas's Entries
Mallard Ring-necked Duck Cinnamon Teal Common Merganser Canada Geese
Mallard
2002 Honorable Mention
 Grades K-3
Ring-necked Duck
2003
1st Place Grades K-3
Cinnamon Teal
2004 Honorable Mention
 Grades 4-6
Common Merganser
2005
5
Canada Geese
2006
1st Place Grades 4-6
Canvasback Common Eiders Long-tailed Duck Harlequins Pintail
Canvasback
2007
1st Place Grades 7-9
Common Eiders
2008
1st Place Grades 7-9
Long-tailed Duck
2009
1st Place Grades 7-9
Harlequins
2010
1st Place Grades 10-12
Pintail
2011
1st Place Grades 10-12
Canvasbacks
Canvasbacks
2012 Alaska Best of Show
     Josiah's Entries
Mallard Canada Goose King Eider Green-winged Teal Mallards
Mallard
2003 Honorable Mention Grades K-3
Canada Goose
2004
3rd Place Grades K-3
King Eider
2005
2nd Place Grades K-3
Green-winged Teal
2006
1st Place Grades K-3
Mallards
2007
1st Place Grades 4-6
Ring-necked duck Pintail Redhead Blue-winged Teal Cinnamon Teal
Ring-necked Duck
2008
1st Place Grades 4-6
Pintail
2009
1st Place Grades 4-6
Redhead
2010
1st Place Grades 7-9
Blue-winged Teal
2011
1st Place Grades 7-9
Cinnamon Teal
2012
1st Place Grades 7-9
Pintail
Pintail
2013
1st Place Grades 10-12
     Anna's Entries
King Eider Trumpeter Swan Cinnamon Teal Mallard Hooded Merganser Hen
King Eider
2006
2nd Place Grades K-3
Trumpeter Swan
2007
1st Place Grades K-3
Cinnamon Teal
2008
1st Place Grades K-3
Mallard
2009
1st Place Grades K-3
Hooded Merganser Hen
2010
1st Place Grades 4-6
Oldsquaws Tundra Swan Black Scoter Bufflehead Pintail
Long-tailed Ducks
2011
1st Place Grades 4-6
Tundra Swan
2012
1st Place Grades 4-6
Black Scoter
2013
1
1st Place Grades 7-9
Bufflehead
2014
Pintail
2015
Oldsquaws
Wood Duck
2016
      Aspen's Entries
Barrow's Goldeneye Harlequin Mallards King Eider Blue-winged Teal
Barrow's Goldeneye
2010
1st Place Grades K-3
Harlequin Hen
2011
1st Place Grades K-3
Mallards
2012
1st Place Grades K-3
King Eider
2013
1
1st Place Grades 4-6
Blue-winged Teal
2014
Harlequin Trumpeter Swan
Harlequin
2015
Trumpeter Swan
2016
     Haven's Entries
Trumpeter Swans Blue-winged Teal Hen Buffleheads
Trumpeter Swans
2014
Blue-winged Teal Hen
2015
Buffleheads
2016


A Family of Junior Duck Stamp Competitors
By Aurora Firth
2007
  Two state Best of Show winners in one family? Six siblings who have all placed more than once? A family of nine that supports itself by its artwork? Yes, and more than that; let me introduce you to our family.
  My parents, Ben and Melanie Firth, and the seven of us - myself, Aurora (20), Barnabas (17), Sarah (15), Silas (12), Josiah (10), Anna (7), and Aspen (3), live on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula just south of the little town of Anchor Point, in a 1900-square-foot house that we've been building out-of-pocket over the past three years. A ten-minute walk from our house takes you to the edge of a bluff overlooking the Anchor River. The town of Homer is about fifteen miles south, on the very tip of the Peninsula, jutting out into Kachemak Bay.
  From the first, our parents had intended to homeschool their children, and none of the seven of us have ever attended public school. Mama attends to our academic education, Daddy teaches us art, and some of us take music lessons from a friend.
  We moved to Fairbanks, Alaska from Pennsylvania in 1996 and lived there for five years. During our last years in Fairbanks, we came down here in the summers and worked to build the Ben Firth Studio on Mile 161 on the Sterling Highway.
  Our studio showcases Daddy's artwork, which includes pencil, pen-and-ink, and watercolor, as well as sculpture in antler, wood, and bronze. Most, though not all, of it is for sale. Also on display and for sale is Mama's etched glassware and our - the children's - crafts and artwork, including our Duck Stamp drawings.
  Six years ago, in 2001, Daddy told me about the Junior Duck Stamp competition and asked if I wanted to try entering. I had two weeks before the deadline. I worked hard on "The Way to the Sea", a colored pencil drawing of a Harlequin drake, but I think I was as shocked as anyone when I won Best of Show for the State of Alaska! That was the beginning of it all. The next year, Barnabas, Sarah, Silas, and I entered; in 2003, Josiah began; in 2006, Barnabas decided to stop entering, but Anna began, and my first art student, Emily Coble, began as well. That was also the year in which I had to stop entering, after my graduation from homeschooled high school. This year, Sarah, Silas, Josiah, and Anna, as well as Emily Coble from Homer and Luke and Stacy Martin from Anchor Point, my art students, submitted their entries under Daddy's and my teaching. Emily and Stacy are both 7, and Luke is 11.
  Here's how the competition works: the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design program is for public, private, and homeschooled students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. In the schools, a student's entry is regarded as a term paper, encouraging the student to represent what he has learned about waterfowl and their habitat and conservation through art. Each state and U.S. territory has its own competition, in which the entries compete in four divisions: K-3rd grade, 4th-6th grade, 7th-9th grade, and 10th-12th grade. In each division, 16 Honorable Mentions, 3 Third Places, 3 Second Places, and 3 First Places are awarded. The judges then take the 12 First Place winners, and from among them, select the State Best of Show winner. Next, the 50-some Best of Show winners are sent to Washington, D.C., where a panel of judges selects the National Best of Show winner from among them. This piece of art is then printed as a $5 collectors' stamp.
  I won Best of Show for the State of Alaska in 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005, and a First Place in 2002. In 2005, my last entry, a pastel-and-colored pencil drawing of a pair of Hooded Mergansers, placed among the Top Ten nationally. Sarah, after having won an Honorable Mention, 2 Third Places, Second Place, and First Place, came through this year as Alaska's Best of Show winner with a pastel-and-colored pencil drawing of a pair of Cinnamon Teals. Her piece also placed among the Top Ten nationally. Barnabas has won an Honorable Mention and 3 Second Places, Silas, 2 Honorable Mentions and 2 First Places; Josiah, Honorable Mention, Third Place, Second Place, and First Place, and Anna, a Second Place. This year, in addition to Sarah's Best of Show, Silas, Josiah, and Anna all won First Places, Emily a Third Place, Luke an Honorable Mention, and Stacy a Second Place. Honors all round!
  The Duck Stamp, as we call it among ourselves, has been good for our family in several ways. For one thing, all six of us who have entered have found that our waterfowl identification abilites have mysteriously increased. We look forward to the coming of migratory ducks in spring, and as we drive by the pools at the side of the road, we are generally able to call out,
  "Mallard pair to the right!"
  "Oh, look, a Barrow's Goldeneye--no, actually it's a Common Goldeneye--look at the shape of the Spot."
  "Bufflehead over here!"
  Needless to say, it has helped the growth of both our artistic abilities and our interest in art. I've developed a helpful technique for soft pastel backgrounds, and what we do with colored pencils has surprised people. We have learned to more truly appreciate the beauty and design of what God has created in nature as we try to represent it in our work, and the conservation aspect of the program has helped us in learning the importance of being good stewards of His creation.
  I could go on and on, but I'll stop now with an invitation to stop and see us if you're ever in our area. Our studio is open mid-May through mid-September, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and it's always open by appointment if you don't come in the summer. You can also visit our website at www.benfirthstudio.com. The ocean and mountain scenery around Anchor Point and Homer is awesome, and the salmon and halibut fishing is world-famous. (Did I mention that there is also great art?) We hope to see you some day!


2003 Entries Aurora with Gale Norton
Silas, Sarah, Aurora, Josiah, and Barnabas Firth with their 2003 Junior Duck Stamp entries
3
Aurora presents then Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton with a print of her 2003 entry in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the national wildlife refuge system.
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