Appreciating Wildlife through Art

By Luke Matthews

This year I was given the opportunity to serve as a judge for the California Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program. Kids ranging from K-12, submitted waterfowl art from across the state. As judges, we were tasked with picking the top 20 pieces within each age group, as well as an overall winner- this fantastic art from 16-year old Sophie Ye from San Jose.

California has the highest participation of any state involved in the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program. This could largely be attributed to our amazing waterfowl populations in the Sacramento Valley. Junior artists in California have the opportunity to go out and see many of these birds in wetlands or ricelands throughout the Valley.

This was an amazing experience and I was blown away by the quality and quantity of the art across all of the age groups. Many of these artists went above and beyond by incorporating key elements of their species habitat and ecology into each of the paintings. This competition not only promotes creativity but gets kids excited about the outdoors. This stood out to me as a sign that the artists are in fact getting excited about wildlife. It is vital that we encourage children to get outside and get involved with wildlife otherwise the future of our wildlife species are doomed. Children are the future of conservation, and it is programs like this that help introduce them to the importance and value of conserving our wildlife.


Luke Matthews is Wildlife Programs Manager for the California Rice Commission