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Youth contests offer creative opportunities
Local students have an opportunity to be as creative as they desire when entering the National Garden Club's creative writing and poster contests sponsored locally by Pecan Grove Garden Club.
“Express yourself” is the invitation the garden club offers to Yuma's youth. High school students are invited to enter the essay contest, while elementary and middle-school students are invited to enter poems. “Ways We Can Protect Aquatic Ecosystems” is the title for this year's essay contest, grades 9-12. “Protecting Our Aquatic Friends” is the title for poetry entries, grades K-8.
Grades 1-5 are also invited to create artistic posters to help Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl educate the public about protecting our natural resources. The poster contest is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service and National Garden Clubs, Inc.
The title for the Smokey Bear poster contest is “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires” and for the Woodsy Owl poster contest is “Lend a Hand: Care for the Land.” The national grand prize winner of the poster contests will be honored with a recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C., along with round-trip airfare and accommodations for four. The National Garden Clubs, Inc. will award $50 to each of the first-place national winning posters in all five grades.
Students can begin creating their entries now and will have until October 26 to submit them. Rules for each of the three contests can be obtained by calling 726-3904. Flyers describing the contests will be dropped off at local schools. Entries can be mailed or dropped off at the U of A Cooperative Extension Office, 2200 W. 28th St., Suite 102, Yuma, AZ 85364.
“Pecan Grove Garden Club began sponsoring this event 20 years ago when Val Colvin was president,” said Marlena Parrott, contest chairman. “It has grown over the years from a handful of students participating to several hundred last year. Val's enthusiasm and leadership have kept these contests growing each year. She is a very special member of our garden club.”
The entries are judged locally, and cash awards given to first, second, and third-place winners. First-place winners are invited to share their entries with the public at a program held at the U of A Cooperative Extension Auditorium. First-place entries are then sent on to the state competition.
“We had over 400 entries last year and were so proud to have so many students participate,” Parrott said. “Last year, our high school first-place essay was written by Sidney Penney, Kofa High School. Her essay went on to win first place at the state level and at the national level, where she received a $1,000 college scholarship. In her essay, Penny described the benefits the Yuma community receives from the Robert J. Moody Demonstration Garden. Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma would like to congratulate Sidney and wish her continued success as she begins her freshman year at the University of Arizona.”
Last year's local poetry contest winners were: First grade - Christian Noriega/Desert Mesa; Second grade - Zach Castenada/St. Francis; Third grade - Ellie Hill/Southwest Christian; Fourth grade - Marissa Sanchez/Rancho Viejo; Fifth grade - Amulya Doniparthi/Alice Byrne; Sixth grade - Alexia Zavela/Rancho Viejo; Seventh grade - Abigayle Offutt/Crane Middle School; Eighth grade- Victoria Van Hise/Crane Middle School.
First-place poems moved on to the state contest; and, again, Yuma was well represented. State winners from Yuma were: First grade - Christian Noriega; Fourth grade - Marissa Sanchez; Fifth grade - Amulya Doniparthi; Sixth grade - Alexia Zavela; Seventh grade - Abigayle Offutt; eighth grade - Victoria Van Hise; Special Ed. Seventh grade - Jose Limon, and Special Ed. eighth grade - Mike Gomez.
The Smokey Bear/Woodsy Owl poster contest first-place winners at the state level from Yuma were: First grade - Kailey Krajnik/Ronald Regan; Third grade - Alondra Jimenez/Ronald Reagan; Fifth grade - Leilani Sanchez/Ronald Reagan.
When asked the garden club's goals for these competitions, Willene Calvert, Pecan Grove Garden Club president, said, “We want to encourage Yuma's youth to stop for a moment and think about our environment. Then, by writing down their thoughts or creating posters, they can express their personal feelings about how to protect our natural resources. The more the public is aware of the need to protect our environment, the more care our environment will receive.”
Pecan Grove Garden Club congratulates last year's winners and offers an invitation to each Yuma student to “express yourself” by entering this year's competition.
Karen Bowen is a master gardener and member of Yuma Garden Club. This column is sponsored by the Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma.