Duck Stamp Art Winner Reinstated Amid Controversy

Duck Stamp Art Winner Reinstated Amid Controversy
Madison Grimm, left, and her 4-year-old sister, Hannah, smile outside their rural South Dakota home in 2012. (foxnews)

By Dawn Cranfield

Duck Stamp Art Winner Reinstated Amid Controversy

Madison Grimm, the 6-year-old winner of a federally-sponsored art contest has been reestablished as the victor after being knocked off the pedestal when some accused her of cheating.  Grimm has been reinstated amid the controversy in the 2013 Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest (JDS).

Initially declared the winner, Grimm’s paining of a canvasback duck was questioned when it was believed she used graphite transferring to develop her painting.  Only days after the April 19 declaration naming her the winner of the $5,000 prize, she learned she had lost the contest.

US Fish & Wildlife Services, the sponsors of the program, then named 17 year-old Peter Coulter of Missouri, the winner of the contest.  His acrylic painting of snow geese qualified him for the $5,000 prize.

However, the decision has now been reversed, and Coulter has been named second-place winner and has received $3,000 and Grimm, of South Dakota, has once again been crowned first-place winner in the contest.  Grimm’s father, Adam Grimm, thought the original decision to take away his daughter’s title was unfair, “We really felt that it was unjustly taken from her.  It very much seemed to do with her age.  Some people complained, ‘How could a girl who is only 6 have done this?’ Others said she must’ve had some kind of unfair advantage.”(

The senior Grimm is a professional artist who won the Federal Duck Stamp Competition in 2000, says he read and knew the rules.  He

Duck Stamp Art Winner Reinstated Amid Controversy
Madison Grimm’s Winning Arwork

claims his daughter used an unpublished photograph of a duck he took years ago; but she was initially disqualified because it was said she used a graphite transfer.

In a decision reversing their decision, the US Fish & Wildlife Services issued a statement that reads in part, “Following the contest, concerns were raised about the authenticity of the work, the Service disqualified the artwork last week. Since that time, the Service has continued to evaluate its decision and has decided to reinstate the original winner.” (

Ultimately, it was determined that Grimm’s painting would stand as the winning artwork since it was judged in a “fair and open” contest.

The contest started in 1989 as a national art contest and grew to include the stamp program in 1993; it was initially recognized by Congress the following year with the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act was enacted.  By 2000, all 50 states were included as well as the District of Columbia.

Each year, more than 27,000 students submit entries into the JDS contests, with substantially more participating in school curriculum activities without submissions.  The enactment of the 1994 legislation has had an important impact on educating students

on waterfowl and wetlands conservation, part of the JDS Program.

The program is a vibrant program incorporating arts and science that teaches wetlands and waterfowl conservation to students from kindergarten through twelfth grade.  “The program incorporates scientific and wildlife management principles into a visual arts curriculum, with participants completing a JDS design as their visual ‘term papers.’” (

Sales revenue from the program supports awards of the art contest and environmental education for students and marketing efforts for the stamp.

A First Day of Sale ceremony will be held on June 28 at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Ashland, VA.  The free event will be open to the public and will feature both the federal and junior duck stamp artists.  The US Postal Service will be selling Grimm’s winning Junior Duck Stamp; Grimm will be in attendance.

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Duck Stamp Art Winner Reinstated Amid Controversy
Peter Coulter, Second Place Winner