From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
First Place Fifth Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest by Jake Helfenbein, Deerfield Elementary, Oak Creek. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
To help foster a greater awareness and knowledge about the natural world among Wisconsin school children, every year the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry holds two annual statewide Arbor Day contests, a poster contest for fifth graders and a writing contest for fourth graders.
This year fifth grade artists across the state were challenged to illustrate the theme “Trees are Terrific . . . and Energy Wise!” Fourth grade authors examined the topic “Why Plant Trees?”
More than 1,900 fifth graders and more than 1,400 fourth graders participated. Posters visually portrayed trees as energy heroes that can save you money. Students advised energy conserving options such as using the shade from trees to lower a family’s air conditioning bill and planting tree windbreaks to block winter winds and keep homes warm.
Student author Jonah wrote, “Trees help the air and keep soil down. They protect us from the wind, and that will turn your frown upside down.”
Writings praised trees for their apples, maple syrup and colorful leaves. Students marveled at their remarkable ability to become toys, like Pinocchio. Tree planting was recognized as an act “that one does from the heart.” To quote Sydney, winning 4th grade author, “Planting trees makes me feel good; to know that it is not just for me, but for my community and my planet.”
Winners of this year’s statewide Fifth Grade Arbor Day poster contest are for first place, Jake Helfenbein, Deerfield Elementary, Oak Creek; first runner-up, Jillian Ybanez, St. Maria Goretti School, Madison; second runner-up, Maggie Gallenberg, Spring Valley Elementary School, Antigo. Winners of the statewide Forest Appreciation Week Writing contest are first place, Sydney Donath, Farmington Elementary School, Kewaskum; first runner-up, Arabesha Garcia, James Madison Elementary, Sheboygan; second runner-up, Jonah Robert Kahl, Turtle Lake Elementary, Turtle Lake.
The six winners will celebrate their special achievements at an Arbor Day ceremony in the state Capitol and will receive plaques and savings bonds respectively from the Wisconsin Arborist Association and the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association.
The Wisconsin Nursery Association will also supply a tree to each of the six statewide winners for planting at a local community site. The six winning teachers will receive professional development scholarships for a LEAF Program (Learning, Experiences & Activities in Forestry) and a Wisconsin Project Learning Tree workshop.
In addition, the 24 students (the top 12 posters and essays) who entered can see their artwork and thoughts on the internet and in print. Their work will be featured in the 2011 Department of Natural Resources’ Arbor Day-Earth Day Calendar. All work is on-line at the DNR Web site for kids called EEK! Environmental Education for Kids at http://dnr.wi.gov/eek/. Look under Cool Stuff, then click on What’s New.