Conservation district announces art, writing contest winners

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Taylor County Conservation District recently announced the winners of the Jim Claypool Conservation Art and Writing Contest for 2013.

The theme was "Mission: H2O." All Kentucky students grade six through 12 are eligible to compete in the writing contest. Students in grade one through five can compete in the art contest.

To honor the teachers in Taylor County, each of the first-place school winner's teachers will receive $50 to spend on supplies for their classroom.

County awards provided by the Conservation District are as follows. First place in the county receives $40 cash and the runner-up receives $30. First place in each school receives $30 cash; second place will get $20; and third place gets $10. Classroom winners receive $10 cash.

Certificates of achievement are given to winners in all categories. The first, second, and third place winners in each school also receive a T-shirt featuring the contest theme.

Co-sponsors of the contest are Kentucky Farm Bureau and the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts.

Regional winners receive a $50 check. State winners receive a $250 check for first place, $150 for second place and $50 check for third place. County level winners receive a $25 check. State and regional winners will receive a personalized plaque and certificate.

There were 92 written entries submitted this year from three participating schools.

Jillian Benningfield, a junior at Taylor County High School, is the county winner. The county runner-up in the writing contest is Gabriella Delagarza, a fifth-grade student who has been accelerated to sixth grade at Taylor County Middle School.

There were 334 art entries submitted this year from three participating schools. The county winner is Savannah Gumm, a fourth-grade student at Campbellsville Middle School. County runner-up in the art contest is Haylee Allen, a third grade student at Campbellsville Elementary School.

School and classroom winners are as follows.

Writing Winners

Campbellsville Middle School

• First place - Crystal Ratliff 

• Second place - Garcyne Hash

• Third place - Alex Doss

Taylor County Middle School

• First place - Gabriella Delagarza

• Second place - Piper Uhles

• Third place - Sommer Tucker

Taylor County High School

• First place - Jillian Benningfield

• Second place - Megan Graham

• Third place - Cooper Wise

Art Winners

Campbellsville Elementary School

• First place - Haylee Allen

• Second place - Leigh Hicks

• Third place - Ellie Wise

Campbellsville Middle School

• First place - Savannah Gumm

• Second place - Tayler Thompson

• Third place - Noah Mardis

Taylor County Elementary School

• First place - Gracie Benningfield

• Second place - Nikolas Robertson

• Third place - Cara Whitley

Classroom Winners

Art Contest

• Campbellsville Elementary School - Yoonbin Nam, Levi Dicken, Rowan Petett, Blatyn Cooper, Haylee Allen, Leigh Hicks and Ellie Wise.

• Campbellsville Middle School - Yuika Hanada, Raj Patel, Noah Mardis, Emily Kerns, Chase Hord, Tayler Thompson, Savannah Gumm and Aiden Hunt.

• Taylor County Elementary School - Connor Wilhoit, Nikolas Robertson, Whitley Eastridge, Russell Bladen, Gracie Benningfield, Emma Pinson and Landon Robison, Cara Whitley, Dylan Childress, Aidan Cox, Maggie Rigsby, Kaitlyn Curry and Julie Park.

Writing Contest

• Taylor County High School - Alexandra Zimmerman, Cooper Wise, Megan Graham, Brooklyn Lee and Jillian Benningfield.

• Taylor County Middle School - Piper Uhles, Sommer Tucker and Gabriella Delagarza.

• Campbellsville Middle School - Gracyne Hash and Crystal Rattliff.

Jillian Benningfield's Winning Essay

"Mission: H2O"

Kentucky is a state with a seemingly infinite amount of clean water, and while our water is infinite, our clean water is not. Water is continually cycled through the environment contaminating and purifying water. Water is essential for survival.

The health and wellbeing of society relies on clean water. We use water to drink, shower, brush our teeth, cook our food, flush our toilets, and swimming. Many people, even in Kentucky, live with inadequate or unclean water supplies. Unclean water not only effects the health of humans, but it affects every living organism.

Through the water cycle, unclean water is spread throughout the environment, harming trees and plants, the ability for soil to support life, and the organisms that consume the contaminated water and plants. In order to keep the water in Kentucky clean, several issues must be addressed. These include education, conservation, and restoration and the key to these issues will be information.

Conservation is the protection of our valued resources. In order to conserve our water, the use of unnecessary water and water pollutants must be stopped. Finding the point source pollutants of areas is very important, but is also important to find ways for the nonpoint source pollutants of an area as well in order to prevent water from being contaminated in the first place. However, the best way to conserve water is information. This may seem silly, but it is true. People need to be informed of pollution and its effect on water. Most know that they are supposed to support the idea of conservation and want to learn how to keep water from being polluted in their own lives. The people who are skeptical of saving our water are the people who are uninformed of waters impact.

In order to ensure that people will have clean water, we must clean our water. While wastewater treatment plants are doing an excellent job of cleaning wastewater so that it is potable, this does not address our current water issues.  The need for more potable water than is currently available to our world's growing population is great. The key lies in the ocean. Desalinization will cure our water need, but desalinization plants are not energy efficient. More efficient ways of cleaning water can save our waterless future.

The youth are the future of water. Children are impressionable and develop their beliefs at early ages. The practices of keeping water clean and conserving water should be taught in depth at early ages. Though these ideas are already being taught, they are not handling the issues as they should. Children should be taught more than just to turn the water off while they brush their teeth. They should be educated in the effects of unclean water and about how little clean water there is compared to how many people need it across the world. The conservation and restoration of water will be able to keep water clean for everyone and everything as long as these sustainable practices are upheld and improved. These practices will stick with them for life. A deep education in water will ensure that the future of water is safe.

The key to the future of the Earth is to save our potable water. This will take effort and time, but isn't life worth that effort? When people think of environmental issues, the main focus is global warming and saving the polar bears.

While these are pertinent issues, we are facing a water crisis that could wipe out all life on Earth. The prevention of this crisis will be the only way to keep up the health and wellbeing of the world. Everyone and anyone can change our future for the better. All that is needed is information. It is our responsibility to inform everyone we can of our impact on water and what your future will look like if nothing is done to help our water quality. They need to know how they can change their habits and choices to be not only more environmentally conscious, but more water conscious.