Youth Education Committee Hosts Virtual 64th Annual Conservation Awareness Poster and Speaking Contests

March 10, 2021 |

MADISON – The Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association (WI Land+Water) hosted its 68th Annual Conservation Conference virtually on March 2-5, 2021. The youth speeches are always the highlight of the conference and usually kick-off the WI Land+Water conference. This year, with a virtual conference, the Youth Education Committee hosted its 64th Annual Conservation Awareness Poster and Speaking Contest and first virtual competition.

Students from across Wisconsin submitted their speeches about relevant conservation topics, and these were judged prior to the start of the conference. WI Land+Water Association members and guests were able to view the first-place winning speeches and vote on the conservation posters that were displayed on the virtual conference platform.

The first-place winning speakers from the elementary, junior and senior divisions were viewed by over 400 conservation professionals and guests from across the state. Speeches had to address a relevant, soil and water conservation issue, with emphasis on the impact of the issue in their locality or in Wisconsin.

For the poster contest, the first-place winners in the primary, elementary, middle, junior and senior division will move on to represent Wisconsin at the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Poster Contest held at the NACD annual meeting in 2022. The conservation poster awareness theme this year was “Healthy Forests=Healthy Communities.”

“Despite all of the challenges that this pandemic has presented this past year, we were thrilled that so many students from across the state of Wisconsin participated in our virtual conservation awareness poster and speaking contests,” said Matt Krueger, WI Land+Water Executive Director.

The conservation awareness poster and speaking contests are two of the many programs that the Youth Education Committee coordinates to educate and inspire Wisconsin’s youth about the importance of stewardship and caring for our natural resources.

“It is encouraging to know that students took the time to research and speak out about compelling conservation topics and took the time to share their viewpoints on how healthy forests=healthy communities,” added Krueger. “Congratulations to the winning speeches and posters and thank you to all of the students for your hard work and your commitment to protecting and conserving our natural resources.”

The topics of the winning speeches were:

  • “Live at 6-Interview with a Homeless Prairie Chicken,” by Caydie Thompson from Trempealeau County, discussing theimportance of native Prairie Chickens as an indicator species helping to determine the health of our prairie ecosystems;
  • “Healthy Forest, Healthy You” by Joseph Jarrell from Washburn County discussing how forests are critical to our communities, health and environment;
  • “Not so Boring News” by Paige Lietz from Marquette County, highlighting the negative impact the Emerald Ash Borer has had on most of the Ash trees in our state.


Elementary Division: First place: Caydie Thompson, Trempealeau County, “Live at 6-Interview with a Homeless Prairie Chicken”; Second place: Malia Szews, Oneida County, “Susie’s Quest”; Third place: Keewin Wilson, Iron County, “Help Save Our World-Fight Climate Change.”

Junior Division: First place: Joseph Jarrell, Washburn County, “Healthy Forest, Healthy You”; Second place: Emelia Berg, Pierce County, “Eastern Whippoorwill”; Third Place: N/A

Senior Division: First place: Paige Lietz, Marquette County, “Not so Boring News?”; Second place: Gabriel Traicoff, Barron County, “Our Home and Climate Change” Third place: Annika Waltenberg, Portage County, “Invasive, Evil, Delicious”


Primary Division: (K-1) First Place: Kamden Freund, Portage County; Second Place: Mackenna Herrild, Sauk County; Third Place: Louise Witt, Douglas County.

Elementary Division: (2-3) First Place: Flynn Bushman, Shawano County; Second Place: Preston Christianson, Portage County; Third Place: Kallie Sadler, Sauk County.

Middle Division: (4-6) First Place: Olivia Cordeiro, Ozaukee County; Second Place: Rylee Olson, Monroe County; Third Place: Laurena Sauer, Clark County.

Junior Division: (7-9) First Place: Madeline Fuller, Outagamie County; Second Place: Aliya Cynor, Shawano County; Third Place: Robert Merklein, Washington County.

Senior Division: (10-12) First Place: Sophia Roth, Green County; Second Place: Grace Bergeron, Brown County; Third Place: Ahnna Bautch, Trempealeau County.


For more information about the contests, click here.
View the full poster gallery here.

WI Land+Water is a nonprofit organization that supports the local and statewide efforts of all county land conservation committee supervisors and conservation staff across Wisconsin. Its mission is to protect, conserve, and enhance Wisconsin’s natural resources by advocating for and supporting county conservation efforts, for current and future generations.

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