Friday, May 7, 2021

Conservation contests rewards students’ knowledge

poster contestThe Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District held our 41st annual and first virtual Conservation Field Day event last fall where students learned about natural resource conservation from the experts and entered the fifth-grade essay and sixth-grade poster contests.  I scheduled virtual and in-person awards ceremonies this winter with all participating schools to reward students’ knowledge and creativity.

Conservation Field Day was too important to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I was excited to rethink the platform.  I warmly thank our fifth and sixth grade teachers for facilitating the virtual event with their students.

(Pictured here: Wheelerville Union Free School’s Joleen Rivera placed overall third place for the Conservation Field Day fifth grade poster contest.)

contest winners

Lake Pleasant Central School’s Conservation Field Day winners. From left: Logan Billings, overall poster contest first place, and Zoe Martz overall essay contest first place.

THE PRESENTERS

Presenters pre-recorded talks on a variety of conservation themed topics.  The line-up included Dan Kelting, Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute, Protecting our Clean Adirondack Waters; Christine Campeau and Taylor Ewald, Adirondack Experience, The Big Bad Wolf; Jamila Page, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Hamilton County, Beginner Composting 101; Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil Health; Emily-Bell Dinan, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, Invasive Animals of the Adirondacks; and Jason Scott, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Leave No Trace.

THE CONTESTS

Students jotted down notes on graphic organizers while they watched the videos.  They later used this information to craft their posters and essays that focused on the topic that, in their opinion, best protected Hamilton County’s natural resources.  Every year, I recruit my mom Kathy to rank blind copies of the entries.  She has 40 plus years of teaching experience at the Vernon-Verona-Sheryll school district.

poster contest

Wells Central School’s Conservation Field Day fifth grade poster contest winners. From left: school-wide third place winner Anastasia Lyn Ralph, Principal Jeremy Siddon, and school-wide second place winner Ryder Wright.

My mom shared the following quote:  “Somehow, in the middle of a pandemic, Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District found a way to continue the tradition of Conservation Field Day.  Students, teachers, and presenters met their technology challenges head on to create and share videos.  Although you are only seeing first, second, and third place for the school districts, these submissions are just the tip of the iceberg.  The quality of this year’s submission once again shows that our students value our living environment.”

THE WINNERS

The overall first place sixth-grade essay contest winner is Zoe Martz, and the overall first place fifth-grade poster contest winner is Logan Billings, both of Lake Pleasant Central School.  Their names were engraved on plaques to be displayed at their schools.  The other overall sixth-grade essay contest winner is:  second, Darrian Hamm, Wells Central School.  The other overall fifth-grade poster contest winners are:  second, Aliza Blanchard, Wells Central School; and third, Joleen Rivera, Wheelerville Union Free School.   Joleen also received a special award for voluntarily participating in Conservation Field Day in a non-classroom setting.  Awards ceremonies were held where all participating students received a certificate of merit.  Class wide and overall first, second, and third place winners received certificates and ribbons.

contest winners

Wells Central School’s Conservation Field Day sixth grade essay contest winners. From left: Principal Jeremy Siddon, school wide second place winner Cayden Daum, overall second place winner Darrian Hamm, school-wide second place winner Joleigh Mattice, and teacher Josh Darrow.

Anyone interested can visit our website and watch the videos.  Our presenters did an epic job, and I know people of all ages will learn something new and exciting about natural resource conservation!

The District has been working to manage and promote the wise use of natural resources in Hamilton County since 1965.  For more information go to www.hcswcd.com or call 518-548-3991.

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Caitlin Stewart is Conservation Educator at the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD). One of HCSWCD’s largest programs is their Invasive Species program and Caitlin will be sharing her field experiences, as well as the efforts and results of forest surveys, and monitoring and management.

Caitlin has deep roots in Hamilton County as both her grandparents purchased property on Sacandaga Lake and Lake Pleasant in the 1960s. Her parents met and were married in Lake Pleasant, and she spent summers and vacations there. She’s been a full time resident since 2008 and is an avid hiker, skier, paddler, runner and biker.




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