Anna Grace Swanson's winning Florida Junior Duck Stamp. SC photo by Chuck Larsen Photography
Anna Grace Swanson's winning Florida Junior Duck Stamp. SC photo by Chuck Larsen Photography

The legendary cartoonist and conservationist J.N. “Ding” Darling created the very first U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Duck Stamp, so it’s appropriate that ‘Ding’ Darling Days at the refuge include recognition of this year’s contest winners.

From more than 20,000 entries in the junior division this year, Rayen King, of John’s Creek, Ga., was declared the winner. It was her third time winning the Georgia contest, but her first junior national win. King’s acrylic of an Emperor Goose took first place.

From 2,110 entries from the state of Florida, Anna Grace Swanson, of Titusville, won the state title this year. Her acrylic of a blue-winged teal was the state’s best.

Also on hand for recognition was Robert Hautman, of Delano, Minn., who earned his third national win. This year, he entered an acrylic Mallard to take the title.

Supervisory Ranger Toni Westland of Ding Darling hosted the event. This year’s national championship awards ceremony was in North Dakota. The Federal duck stamp program has raised $950 million to help acquire and protect more than 5.7 million acres of habitat in the National Wildlife Refuse System.

National winner Hautman said, “I feel honored to have played a small part in such a successful conservation project.”