Kodiak students take home prizes in the Alaska Junior Duck Stamp art contest

Some of the Peterson Elementary winners of Alaska’s Junior Duck Stamp art contest showing their entries. (Photo by Mitch Borden/KMXT)

Mitch Borden/KMXT

A third grade class in Kodiak swept the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest in its kindergarten through third-grade category this year. Students across the state study waterfowl and their habitats. The kids then pick a bird and draw a picture of them in the wild.

The winners of the contest are chosen by how accurate the pictures are to the bird and where they live. KMXT was at Peterson Elementary to see whose drawings took home a prize.


In Peterson Elementary’s library, an excited class of third graders wait to find out how they did in this year’s Alaska Junior Duck Stamp art contest.

“Only three lucky students, kindergarten through third grade in the entire state of Alaska can get the first place ribbons. This class received three. One of the main reasons I love my job is to see kids succeed.”

Chris Hicks is the teacher of the class and he’s really proud of how his kids did. His students didn’t just win all the blue ribbons in their category, but also, earned all of the 2nd place ribbons, one 3rd place ribbon, and a lot of honorable mentions.

They were competing against around 200 students across Alaska, and Chris says he’s not sure if a class has ever won so many awards before. This big win, he hopes, will be a great teaching moment. He wants students who got an award to get a boost in confidence and those who didn’t to be inspired to do better in the future.

“Those kids that didn’t place those are the ones that hopefully will be able to say ‘You know what, wow, look what’s possible.”

Chris’s students have been working on their submissions for weeks. He says they did a lot of research on waterfowl and worked hard on their drawings. And it seems like their hard work paid off. Especially when winners claim their awards to the cheering of their classmates.

Rylee Caskey ’s winning picture shows a mallard landing on water at dawn. She can hardly contain her excitement after getting her blue ribbon.

“I feel good about everything, like, my classmates won, my friends won, I won. I just want to run around.”

Even though it feels great to win, Rylee says the thing she’ll take away from the contest is what she learned about birds and a desire to discover more about them. Which is clear as she enthusiastically reads through a bird book that’s one of her prizes for getting first place.

“Those are a lot of birds. Now I can learn more about everything.”

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