It has been a career goal for Firelands High School senior Ian Valerius to take first place in the state of Ohio for the National Jr. Duck Stamp competition and this year his dream comes true. Ian’s oil painting on panel of a Green-Winged Teal won “Best in Show” in the state and is now representing Ohio in the national competition.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started a student version of the National Duck Stamp contest in 1993. Over 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, North Dakota where all 50+ finalists’ works are assembled. In addition to his state “Best in Show” awards, Ian is in the running for scholarships if he is among the top three nationally. If Ian’s 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. Ian’s original painting will circulate in a national tour of “Best in Show” for one year.
Ian began this painting in November 2017 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. He worked to the deadline at school and at home, allowing time for the delicate oil paints to cure before shipping his painting to Oak Harbor for state jurying. Last year Ian won an “Honorable Mention” for the state which encouraged and motivated him this year. This is a Firelands First and the first time in over 20 years that any Lorain County art student won “Best in Show” for the state in this competition.