Samantha Stewart's painting of a blue-beaked duck won her a blue ribbon in this year's Georgia Junior Duck Stamp competition.
The 12-year-old's image of a ruddy duck in acrylic and oil paint was one of three first-place state winners in the fourth- through sixth-grade category. This is the third year that Samantha has placed within her age group in the competition. Two years ago, she won staff favorite and first place for her conservation message. Last year, the Evans home-schooled pupil placed first for her watercolor painting.
"Last year, I did a wood duck, and it was colorful, and I liked that, so I wanted to do something else that had something unusual about it," she said. "It has the blue beak, so I liked that."
Samantha said she found the bird's image in a duck-finder book she received last year.
Samantha's artwork was submitted through Ms. Charlene's School of the Arts, where she has attended art classes for about two years.
"It's fun," said art teacher Charlene Montgomery, who worked previously as an interpretative ranger at Mistletoe State Park. "When they do that picture, they don't only learn about art, they learn about wildlife and nature."
Students must be precise when creating their images for the contest, Montgomery said.
"You can't just do a pretty duck picture," she said. "It has to be accurate."
The Federal Junior Duck Stamp contest, which started in 1993, aims to educate kindergarten through high school students about wetlands and waterfowl conservation, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site.
Three other students who take classes with Montgomery also placed in their respective grade categories. Eliza Blair won third place in the fourth- through sixth-grade category, Jamie Blair received an honorable mention in the fourth- through sixth-grade category, and Elizabeth Lemley received an honorable mention for the seventh- through ninth-grade category.
The image of the contest's national winner is replicated onto a stamp and sold for $5 by consignees with the U.S. Postal Service and Amplex Corporation, according to the Web site. Proceeds support conservation efforts and provide scholarships and awards for participants.
Samantha said she received news of her first-place finish from her mother.
"My mom sent me an e-mail (with) a link, so I clicked on it and it said I had won, so that was cool," she said.
The contest yielded 100 state winners, whose work will travel and be displayed throughout the state.
"It's wonderful," Montgomery said about Samantha's painting. "She's very meticulous with detail."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.