Federal Duck Stamp celebrates 75th anniversary July 12 at Gainey Conference Center

Federal Duck Stamp celebrates 75th anniversary July 12 at Gainey Conference Center

The Federal Duck Stamp program, widely considered one of the most successful conservation efforts in American history, will note its 75th anniversary with a special celebration on July 12 at St. Thomas' Daniel C. Gainey Conference Center in Owatonna.

Seven Minnesota wildlife artists who have won the Federal Duck

Joe Hautman's painting of northern pintails is featured on this year's Federal Duck Stamp, which went on sale Friday, June 27.

Stamp competition, including 2008 winner Joe Hautman, will participate in the event. Activities will include an exhibit of the artists' original works, the U.S. Postal Service's first home-state cancellation of the 2008 stamp and many hunting and outdoors-related workshops and demonstrations. The event is free and open to the public.

"It is time to honor the Minnesota artists and the Owatonna community for doing so much to advance wildlife and sporting art across the United States," said William Webster, founder and former owner of Wild Wings Gallery in Lake City and a member of the event planning committee. "Minnesota artists have won the Federal Duck Stamp Contest more than any other state – 23 times – and now the public can meet them and thank them."

Joe Hautman in his studio (click photo to see more of his work)

Hautman, of Plymouth, is a three-time Federal Duck Stamp artist (1992, 2002, 2008) and comes from a family that has won the national contest eight times. Brothers Jim Hautman (1990, 1995, 1999) of Chaska and Bob Hautman (1997, 2001) of Delano will attend the Owatonna event, as will David Maass (1974, 1982), Richard Plasschaert (1980), Phil Scholer (1983) and Scot Storm (2004). Dozens of other Minnesota wildlife artists also are expected to attend and display their work, too.

A "home state" ceremony
A Federal Duck Stamp contest winner typically chooses to have his "hometown" ceremony in the city where he lives. Hautman volunteered to move his ceremony to Owatonna and broaden its scope to include other Minnesota artists, to celebrate the contest's 75th year and to bring attention to St. Thomas' efforts to establish a state wildlife art museum at the Gainey Conference Center.

The center is named after the longtime Jostens executive who bequeathed his horse ranch to St. Thomas, which established a campus and conference center on the grounds in 1982. Many commercial artists at Jostens, formerly based in Owatonna, drew and painted game birds. With assistance from entrepreneurs like Webster, the artists began to sell limited edition prints and other facsimiles of their paintings.

Webster, a 1950 alumnus of St. Thomas, approached his alma mater last year about creating a showplace for the work of Minnesota's wildlife artists. "There might not be a more fitting place for a state wildlife art museum," he said, "than the Gainey Center and its 180 acres along the Straight River, which provides a natural habitat for deer, ducks, geese, pheasants, turkeys and a wide variety of song birds."

July 12 Owatonna event
The July 12 event on the Gainey grounds will run from 1 to 5 p.m., rain or shine, and will include a 3:30 p.m. program. Speakers will be Joe Hautman; Webster; Robyn Thorson, Midwest regional director of the Fish and Wildlife Service; Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz; Rep. Connie Ruth of Owatonna; Rep. Bev Scalze (a wildlife artist) of Little Canada; and Bill Anderson, president of the Minnesota Federation of Stamp Clubs. Karen Killlen, wife of Owatonna wildlife artist Jim Killen, will be the emcee.

Activities on the Gainey grounds will include:

  • An exhibit of original artwork by Minnesota's leading wildlife artists, including the seven living Federal Duck Stamp winners at the event
  • An exhibit of all 23 Minnesota artists' prints framed with their winning Federal Duck Stamp design
  • Post Office home-state cancellation of the 2008 stamp and cachet
  • Silent and live auctions of Federal Duck Stamp limited edition prints and wildlife art items
  • Fish and Wildlife Service exhibits on the Junior Duck Stamp Program and the 50th anniversary of the Small Wetlands Acquisition Program
  • Exhibits by the Owatonna chapters of the Izaak Walton league, Ducks Unlimited and the National Audubon Society
  • Youth activities, including Watch Me Draw and painting workshops led by Bonnie and Rebecca Latham, past winners of the Junior Duck Stamp contest
  • A University of Minnesota Raptor Center demonstration
  • Demonstrations of duck and goose calling by the Minnesota Waterfowl Association and dog training and retrieving by On-Line Retrievers and Oak Ridge Kennels
  • A collectible history booklet on 75 years of Federal Duck Stamps and Minnesota's role, available only at the event.

A dinner will be held for Hautman, other wildlife artists and event sponsors. For more information about attending the dinner or being a sponsor of the event, contact Ed Erickson, (651) 962-6931, or Kristi Flanagan, (651) 962-6999, in the St. Thomas Development Office.

Creation of the duck stamp
The Federal Duck Stamp was the creation of Jay Darling, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper cartoonist, hunter and wildlife conservationist who published biting cartoons depicting the destruction of waterfowl and habitat.

President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Darling as chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey (a predecessor to the Fish and Wildlife Service) in 1934. Darling was aware of the 1929 passage of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which authorized the Department of the Interior to acquire wetlands and preserve them as waterfowl habitat, but the law provided no permanent source of money.

Darling's idea was to require all waterfowl hunters 16 and older to purchase a stamp that would generate funds to acquire and preserve habitat. Congress passed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act and it became known as the Duck
Stamp Act. Darling designed the first stamp at Roosevelt's request, and 635,000 hunters paid $1 each.

Over 75 years, Federal Duck Stamp sales have generated $760 million to purchase or lease 5.2 million acres of waterfowl habitat, which are under protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Ninety-eight cents of every duck stamp dollar goes to such purchases and leases, and last year 1.5 million hunters paid $15 each for a stamp.

"The Federal Duck Stamp program is one of the most successful conservation efforts ever devised," says the 2000 book, The Duck Stamp Story. "It is a true national treasure."

Nine million stamps have been sold in Minnesota, helping to acquire 13 national wildlife refuges and eight wetland management districts totaling nearly 500,000 acres. Wetland management districts in the state include nearly 900 waterfowl production areas – small wetlands and associated grasslands – that are essential to the survival of waterfowl, grassland birds and other wildlife.

To read more about the Federal Duck Stamp program, see www.fws.gov/duckstamps.

Contest grows in popularity
After Darling's first design, noted wildlife artists were asked to submit designs until 1949, when the first contest was held.

Fifteen Minnesota artists (see list below) have won 23 contests – far more than any other state. The Hautman brothers, called a "dynasty" by the Washington Post, have dominated the contest with eight winning designs over the last two decades.

Joe Hautman started out to be a physicist, not an artist. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree and doctorate from the University of Michigan. He did postdoctoral research, first at Minnesota and then at the University of Pennsylvania, and began to paint wildlife art on the side. By that time, his brothers Jim and Bob were establishing themselves as artists.

"They kept telling me that I should enter the Federal Duck Stamp contest," Joe said. "They had seen my work and thought I wasn't doing enough with it."

In 1992, on his fourth try with only the fifth duck painting he had ever done, Hautman won the contest with a painting of a spectacled eider. He moved back to Minnesota to become a full-time artist. He since has won the 2002 and 2008 federal contests as well as 10 contests or commissions for state conservation stamps in Minnesota, Connecticut, New Jersey, South Carolina and Texas.

Minnesota’s Federal Duck Stamp Artists:

  • 2008 Joe Hautman
  • 2004 Scot Storm
  • 2002 Joe Hautman
  • 2001 Bob Hautman
  • 1999 Jim Hautman
  • 1997 Bob Hautman
  • 1995 Jim Hautman
  • 1993 Bruce Miller
  • 1992 Joe Hautman
  • 1990 Jim Hautman
  • 1988 Dan Smith
  • 1983 Phil Scholer
  • 1982 David Maass
  • 1980 Richard Plasschaert
  • 1974 David Maass
  • 1972 Arthur Cook
  • 1967 Les Kouba
  • 1962 Edward A. Morris
  • 1961 Edward A. Morris
  • 1958 Les Kouba
  • 1954 Harvey Sandstrom
  • 1949 Roger Preuss
  • 1940 Francis Lee Jaques