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Area students move on to state conservation speaking contest

From left to right: Chloe Heldman, Makenzie Hegland, Jamie Fortney, Shanda Trainer, Trevor Asher, Ben Luther, Hailey, and Cori Wood. Photo courtesy of the Pierce County Land Conservation Department

All Pierce County educators for grades 5-12 are encouraged to build environmental awareness into their lesson plans at the beginning of each school year to prepare students for the annual Pierce County Environmental Awareness Speaking Contest hosted by the Land Conservation Department.

Participating students gain an appreciation for natural resource conservation and environmental quality protection or enhancement. They also gain some understanding and knowledge about local agencies involved with environmental issues, confidence in public speaking and leadership skills.

Educators prepare students for the contest by assigning them to research and gather information about a local resource concern and draft a speech to present at a "speak-a-thon" at their school. First-place winners in each of the categories — elementary, junior and senior divisions — are then encouraged to present their speeches at the Pierce County Conservation and Environmental Awareness Speaking Contest held at the Pierce County Government Center.

This year, Prescott Middle School brought three students to the contest in late January. Jamie Fortney, Makenzie Hegland and Chloe Heldman competed in the Elementary Division.

Five students from Elmwood schools participated in the contest. Hailey Webb and Cori Wood competed in the Elementary Division; Trevor Asher and Ben Luther competed in the Junior Division and Shanda Trainor represented the Senior Division.

Heldman received a first place in the Elementary Division for her speech "Should We Free the Kinni?"; Asher received a first place in the Junior Division for "Land & Water Conservation"; and Trainor received a first place in the Senior Division for "Land and Water Conservation in WI."

First-place winners are invited to present their award—winning speeches, along with students from Barron, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce and St. Croix counties at the West Central Area Environmental Speaking Contest on Feb. 12, at the 29 Pines Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center in Eau Claire. First-place winners of the area contest will be invited to compete in the statewide contest held during the Wisconsin Land + Water Conservation Association 64th annual conference at the Grand Geneva Resort at Lake Geneva on March 14.