The United States Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of Interior announced that the next Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Art Contest will be held at Drake University, Sept. 15–16, 2023.

Jay N. “Ding” Darling

Jay N. ‘Ding’ Darling’s drawing on a piece of cardboard in 1934 led to the creation of the Federal Duck Stamp Program, which has raised more than $1.1 billion for the acquisition and preservation of more than 6 million acres of wildlife habitat,” said Sam Koltinsky, Drake University Duck Stamp 2023 Chairperson.

Darling was a leading editorial cartoonist in the 1900s, first for the Sioux City Journal, then for The Des Moines Register and Leader (later known as The Des Moines Register). At the height of popularity, his work was syndicated to 150 newspapers in the U.S., and he received Pulitzer Prizes in 1924 and 1942. An avid environmental conservationist, he was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934 to a federal position through which he implemented the Duck Stamp Act and then designed the first duck stamp. His image of a Mallard drake and hen alighting in wetlands is one of the most widely published and recognized examples of wildlife art today. 

The first duck stamp designed by Darling.

Darling received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Drake University in 1926, and today, the University continues to honor his legacy. As part of its comprehensive fundraising campaign The Ones: Drake’s Campaign for the Brave & Bold, Drake University is creating The Jay N. Darling Institute. The Institute will collaborate with rural communities to make them more sustainable, competitive in the global economy, and resilient for future generations. Drake also plans to secure donations to create a scholarship program called the DarlingCorps, which will provide financial assistance to students who aspire to serve rural America.

“Bringing the Duck Stamp to Drake University and Des Moines, Iowa, where Darling, a nationally syndicated two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, awakened the nation to the need to conserve its limited natural resources, will honor his vision, art, conservation, and stewardship over the next year,” said Koltinsky.

Darling’s other contributions to conservation and education have been equally important. Darling was a strong supporter of the historic Mississippi institution, Piney Woods School. He helped to establish 28 National Wildlife Refuges and was the founder and the first president of the National Wildlife Federation. He drew the flying goose symbol that marks every National Wildlife Refuge, including the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Fla. Darling also conceived the Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit and began the first with his personal funds. Today there are cooperative units at 40 universities across the nation. The Canadian Duck Stamp program, established in 1985, was based on Darling’s model. Both the Darling Dam in Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Darling in Brighton, Iowa, honor his name and conservation efforts.

The Fish and Wildlife Service will announce specifics of the 2023 Federal Duck Stamp Contest in the coming months. Visit for details.