If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — A Colfax seventh grader has won first place in the Dunn County division of the conservation awareness poster contest sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts, first place in the regional contest and is now advancing to state competition.
Amy Wenzel took top honors with her poster for the county and regional competition, while two other seventh graders, Josephine Doerr and Brook Perry, took second and third place in the county division of the conservation awareness poster contest.
The theme for this year’s contest was “Life in the Soil: Dig Deeper.”
Janell Newcomb of the Dunn County Land and Water Conservation Division presented the winners with certificates and Menomonie Chamber Bucks at Colfax High School February 18.
All together, there were 11 entries from Colfax in the Grade 7-9 category, said Newcomb, who is also a member of the Dunn County Environmental Education Steering Committee.
“We work with youth on different activities throughout the year. We host the contest,” she said.
Colfax students submitted 31 posters in the contest. The committee picks the top 10 or so, and then members of the Dunn County Planning, Resources & Development Committee do the final judging, Newcomb said.
The top three are selected in each division K-1 to 10-12. The first three places were from Colfax and were all seventh graders. The first place winner goes on to the West Central Land and Water Conservation Area competition, which was held on February 11 in Eau Claire. Up to nine counties compete at that level, and then the first place poster from there goes on to state competition, Newcomb said.
There have been years when Dunn County did not participate in the poster contest, but this is the first time in recent years that a poster from Dunn County has gone on to the state level, she said.
The State Conservation Awareness Poster competition is March 13 to 15 in Lake Geneva, and if Amy wins in that division, her poster will go on to a national level, Newcomb said.
“Some counties, if they have funds available, will take the top posters and make calendars out of them or other promotional items, but at our level, we didn’t have funds to do that, so we are giving the girls ‘Chamber Bucks,’” she said.
The Chamber Bucks are redeemable at participating businesses in Menomonie.
Although one would think the three seventh graders would have made their posters for art class, they actually completed their posters as an English class project.
When asked about her inspiration for making the first-place poster, Amy replied, “I wanted to get a good grade!”
All joking aside, however, Amy says she enjoys creative endeavors.
“Art is pretty fun when I get into it,” she said.
“You could do anything with nature, but you needed to put the words into it [Life in the Soil: Dig Deeper],” Amy said.
Amy’s poster includes a lady bug — a real lady bug and not an Asian lady beetle — a bumblebee, an earthworm and a snail.
Amy said she completed her poster in two days. The students could work on their posters in class, but Amy did not because her poster is painted and needed to dry in between working on various sections.
Josephine Doerr also said she enjoys art and that it is one of her favorite classes.
When asked how long it took her to complete the poster, she said she did not really know but that she worked on it as the inspiration came.
Brook Perry said she spent a certain amount of time thinking about what to put in her poster and then deciding what to include.
“I actually did mine in one night,” Brook said.
Amy will eventually get her poster back, Newcomb said.
“The cycle takes a long time … [state competition] will be in March, and we will get it back to her after that. If she’s lucky, and they really like it and she gets first and it goes to nationals, it won’t be returned until after February of 2020,” she said.
Amy said her parents want to make a print of her poster and frame it.
Brook and Josephine said they wanted to frame their posters and put them up in their classroom.
Dunn County Land and Water Conservation also sponsors the Dunn County Conservation Awareness speaking contest, and while Colfax has usually participated in the speaking contest, there were no contestants from Colfax this year or last year, Newcomb said.
When Colfax participated in the speaking contest in the past, several students went on to state competition, she noted.
“Through our youth education committee, we are trying to get the kids more involved and back into conservation ethics and learning more about nature and conservation and trying to preserve it for the future,” Newcomb said.
In addition to the poster contest and the speaking contest, the environmental education steering committee also sponsors the land judging contest and environmental field days.
The Area Land Judging Contest is held each year in September or October. Students from schools in Buffalo County, Dunn County, Pepin County and in other surrounding counties are invited to participate.
The environmental field days are usually in May, and one is held at Knapp and one at Elk Mound in the school forest, Newcomb said.
According to the National Association of Conservation Districts website for this year’s theme of “Life in the Soil: Dig Deeper,” “Soil is a dirty topic, but everyone needs to learn more about it! Soil is the foundation for many of the items we use in our daily life, such as food, clothing, clean water, homes and more. Healthy soil equals healthy food, which equals a healthy you.”