For eight years, Christin Gillman has faithfully entered the Kansas Junior Duck Stamp contest.
In the past, she’s done renditions of mallard ducks and Canada geese.
But this year, the Rose Hill home-schooled student went for something different: the king eider, a large sea duck more at home in Alaska than Kansas.
Her strategy paid off.
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On Tuesday afternoon, she found out she won the contest’s Best of Show award and is now eligible to go on to the nationals, representing Kansas on April 20 at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md.
“I am very excited,” said Gillman, 18. “I am so happy that my last year (to enter the contest), I get the Best of Show. I am just surprised. It is so awesome.”
Gillman’s entry was among 873 entries submitted by Kansas students and judged Tuesday. The Junior Duck Stamp program was created 20 years ago to help raise awareness of and appreciation for the nation’s wetlands and waterfowl. Kansas was one of the first states to participate.
The other finalists included Jacqueline Stockton, Wichita; Logan McNay, Valley Center; Clare Fallon, Auburn; and Amy Hein, Shawnee.
Contest judges were Patty Marlett, naturalist at the Great Plains Nature Center and a member of the Wichita Audubon Society; Mary Werner, director of visual arts, Newman University; Tina Murano, visual arts curriculum coach at USD 259; Rachel Laubhan, biologist at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge; and Jeanette Clement, retail events manager at Cabela’s.
Winners in the contest’s other divisions will be recognized at 1 p.m. May 12 at the Great Plains Nature Center.
In April, Gillman’s king eider artwork will be judged along with 52 other Best of Show art pieces from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Only one piece of artwork will be selected as the top winner and made into the Junior Duck Stamp, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will then sell for $5, to raise money for wildlife awareness. The top three art winners and the top “conservation message” winner receive cash prizes.
Gillman, the daughter of Tom and Meredith Gillman, said she started working on her entry last month, using photos of both a male and a female king eider.
“It was a little difficult trying to get everything together,” she said. “I have to say more time could have been used, but it turned out. It worked.”