Keep Dawson County Beautiful last week announced the finalists in its inaugural Creative Recycling Challenge.
The top-five are Hunter Hicks, Rileigh Loggins, Kaytie Long, Gillian Miller and Meagan Sloane, all eighth graders at Dawson County Middle School.
The finalists were among more than a dozen students in Karen Parks' art class to participate in the recycling challenge.
"I was very surprised and pleased with the art all our students created with recycled items," said Parks, who incorporated lessons on recycling in her art curriculum.
"We studied recycled art and then we went on the Internet and found artists that do this as a career. The students then began gathering objects that would actually work with what they decided to create."
Art projects ranged from functional and practical to decorative and whimsical.
Hunter Hicks took his passion for hunting and guidance he learned from an older brother to develop a pair of binoculars from coke bottles and cardboard paper towel rolls.
"One of my brothers is in the Navy and he's always taught me how to make things if I didn't have them, and binoculars are one of the things he taught me to make," Hicks said.
Gillian Miller was inspired by her love for birds when she took a cardboard snack carton, plastic CD cases and pencils to create an owl-themed bird house.
"I really love birds and sometimes when people throw trash out on to roads, birds might think it's food and eat it and die," she said. "I was very proud of [my birdhouse] because it's so cute and it's for birds."
With a goal of educating youth about the ease of recycling, Keep Dawson County Beautiful provided the students with a list of recyclable materials and encouraged them to use common items found at home or at school.
"This list was used to help teach them to better recognize the many recyclable items that they use or come in contact with around their homes and at school every day," said Kristie Hudson, executive director of Keep Dawson County Beautiful.
"By doing this, we helped illustrate how easy it is to find and collect recyclables and hopefully, encourage them to continue to do so."
The Creative Recycling Challenge also spurred a friendly competition among the young artists as the finalists will have their recycled art on display at this weekend's Mountain Moonshine Festival in downtown Dawsonville.
The community is asked to stop by Keep Dawson County Beautiful's booth at the festival to cast their ballot for the most creative recycling art project. The overall winners will be announced after the festival.