It has been Ian Valerius’ longtime goal to take first place in Ohio for the National Junior Duck Stamp competition.
This year, the Firelands High School senior’s dream came true. His oil painting of a green-winged teal won Best in Show in the state and is now representing our state in the national competition.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started a student version of the National Duck Stamp contest in 1993. More than 27,300 students enter across all 50 states, districts, and territories annually.
One national winning art work is produced on a $5 postage stamp sought after by collectors. All of the proceeds from the sale of this stamp goes directly into the art competition and environmental education activities for student participants.
National jurying continues in April in Bismarck, N.D., where finalists’ works are assembled.
Valerius is also in the running for scholarships if he is among the top three nationally.
If his work is selected as the national winner, it will serve as the official design for the 2018 Junior Duck Stamp. He and one parent will be hosted at the official first day of sale ceremony this summer and the painting will circulate in a national tour of Best in Show for one year.
Valerius began the painting in November by studying and selecting an indigenous duck of North America. He picked the green-winged teal because he loved the colors and thought it would be a challenge to paint.
This is a first for any Firelands student as well as the first time in more than 20 years that any Lorain County art student won Best in Show for the state in this competition.