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Federal contest held at NCTC

By Staff | Nov 4, 2011

Decoy carver Mark McNair shows off his craft to audience members at the Federal Duck Stamp Contest. The contest was held at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Conservation Training Center outside of Shepherdstown. (Chronicle photo by Mike Cramer)

While other birds were busy migrating south for the approaching winter, waterfowl took the spotlight in Shepherdstown at the Federal Duck Stamp contest.

On Friday, Oct. 28, judging for the 2012-2013 Federal Duck Stamp kicked off at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown. This year marks the first time in the contest’s history it has been held in West Virginia.

“It’s been a real honor having the contest here Everyone is really hyped,” said Chelsea Corcoran-Quadt, general biologist for the NCTC’s Division of Education Outreach.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Assistant Director for Migratory Birds Jerome Ford was pleased with having the NCTC as the location of this year’s contest.

“Here at the NCTC, we call it the home of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Ford said.

Ford said that the duck stamp contest is the most popular of the conservation programs the USFWS runs, claiming that it is hard to find someone who has not heard of it. He believes that the program is so important because people have a tendency of taking the importance of birds for granted. Birds can be a very good indicator of the health of an ecosystem, according to Ford.

Duck stamp artists were also pleased with the location in Shepherdstown this year. Artist Richard Clifton of Deleware, who took third place this year, said that he enjoyed how scenic the NCTC campus was and that the area’s rich Civil War history was very interesting.

The duck stamp contest has been an annual tradition for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1937 when Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling created the first stamp. At the time the duck stamps were exclusively used as a license for hunting migratory waterfowl, but the importance of the stamp has grown significantly over the years.

According to the USFWS, 98 cents of every dollar spent on duck stamps goes towards wetland conservation efforts. To this day, over 5 million acres of wetland, 16,000-plus of which are in West Virginia, have been secured by the $750 million generated by duck stamps.

“Humankind has a tendency of making utilitarian things into art Duck stamps don’t have to be beautiful. They chose to do this,” said Mark Shepherd McNair, a duck decoy carver participating in the weekend’s activities.

The contest marks one of only two times this year the NCTC campus has been open to the public, the other being an open house earlier this year. The NCTC hopes that it will again have an opportunity to hold the Federal Duck Stamp Contest at its facility.

“I think people would do it in a heartbeat,” Corcoran-Quadt said.

The new 2012-2013 stamps featuring the winning artwork from Joseph Hautman of Minnesota will be available in July of 2012.