The Federal Duck Stamp Contest has been held in Washington D.C. for 55 of the 59 years it has been in existence. In the past three years, however, the venue has moved around the country. On October 16 and 17 of 2008, the event was held in Bloomington, Minnesota. The two-day contest was free and held open for viewing by the general public. This year’s event was well attended by hunters, stamp collectors, media personnel, and art and wildlife enthusiasts.
Two hundred seventy artists entered the competition this year, with 40 of those entries from Minnesota. In fact, more Minnesotans have been successful in winning this contest than participants from any other state. Five well-informed judges make up the panel that is chosen to select the winning entry. Criteria for the winning stamp are based on the entry’s anatomical accuracy, artistic composition, and its ability to be engraved.
The winning design is engraved into a stamp, which all duck hunters age 16 and over must purchase in order to hunt waterfowl. As well, conservationists and collectors purchase these stamps. Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds collected go to preserving wetlands and associated habitat.**
This federally sponsored program has been the most successful program of its kind, collecting well over half a billion dollars during the years it has been in existence. The proceeds have helped to preserve more than five million acres of duck habitat. Thanks to the 9.13 million duck stamps which have been purchased here since 1934, Minnesota boasts 20 national wildlife refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Dr. Richard Goodkind has entered this prestigious competition for the past ten years. To date, the judges gave his most competitive entry five first place votes in 2005, but his entry finished 32nd in the overall competition.
Dr. Goodkind’s interest in wildlife painting, and the Duck Stamp competition in particular, was inspired when he moved to Minnesota to accept a position on the University of Minnesota’s prosthodontic staff in 1966. Readers who were familiar with his curriculum knew that he incorporated a course in oil painting in his graduate program (Northwest Dentistry 69: 5, 35-38, 1990). Dick always felt that his knowledge of art (draftsmanship and color) assisted him in providing his dental patients with a more esthetic outcome.
It was his grandmother who helped foster the interest in art, and as a young boy, Dick spent many hours sketching the wild animals on exhibit at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, New York. It was, in fact, his fascination with art that lead him to become a prosthodontist. He always felt that dentistry allowed him to express his artistic skills while at the same time permitting him to earn a comfortable living.
Dr. Goodkind continues to paint in his retirement because art enhances his visual acuity, challenges his manual skills, and fulfills his boyhood dreams of becoming a competent fine artist. However, his passion for painting does not stop him from pursuing other interests. He still ties flies, loves to trout fish, hunt birds, dabble in aquatic gardening, and play golf. Retirement hasn’t slowed him down one bit, with numerous avocations keeping him very busy throughout the year.
*Dr. Goodkind is a prosthodontist and former director of the graduate program in prosthodontics at the the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. He is retired and lives in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
**For more information on the history of the Federal Duck Stamp Program, readers may go to www.fws.gov/duckstamps/