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‘We all can help’: Dawson County students recognized by NGCC at Earth Day event
Students from Kilough Elementary School stand in front of their display of winning Earth Day posters on Thursday, April 22, 2021. - photo by Erica Jones

On Thursday, the North Georgia Conservation Coalition (NGCC) held its third annual Earth Day poster contest, aimed at raising awareness for the meaning behind Earth Day and the everyday steps anyone can take to help preserve the planet. 

At Kilough Elementary in Dawson County, Visual Arts Teacher Hailey Fowler took the contest to a whole new level this year. Rather than just having the art students enter the poster contest, Fowler asked all students at the school to participate. 

“I decided to expand on the contest and make it a whole-school event at Kilough,” Fowler said. “Through the creation of the Earth Day posters I helped my students develop their art skills while exploring science and social studies content, discovering environmental problems and ways that we all can help.” 

According to Fowler, her prompt for the project was for each student to highlight an environmental problem and its solution through their posters, showcasing endangered animals, warning against pollution or showing everyday ways to help save the earth.

This story continues below. 

Students from Kilough Elementary School took part in an Earth Day Poster Contest on Thursday, April 22, 2021, showcasing environmental issues, endangered animals and ways to help preserve the planet. - photo by Erica Jones

“Making a pretty picture is not enough; we have to give people an action they can take to help,” Fowler said. “Many students chose to include a QR code on their poster so people can scan it for more information or a direct link to a site for donating money or a reusable product to buy in place of single-use items.” 

Out of all students at the elementary school, 24 were selected as winners in different divisions, kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth grade, and several different categories. Students won a large variety of earth-friendly prizes donated by local businesses, including potted plants, reusable shopping bags and environmentally-friendly toiletry items. 

Two students were selected by the NGCC as the first-place winners in each of the two age groups and received a $25 prize. 

According to NGCC Founder Bette Holland, the real reason behind the contest was to provide a learning opportunity for children about Earth Day and protecting the environment. 

“We want to show that there’s so many things besides just the posters, just the little things you do around the house and with your car that cuts down on carbon emissions,” Holland said. 

Kilough student and third through fifth-grade contest winner Wade Fleming said that he learned a lot about endangered animals during the poster contest. 

“I learned that we have Earth Day to help save animals like turtles, koalas and kangaroos and other endangered species,” Fleming said. “We went through a list of endangered species and I chose the snow leopard because I thought it might be a fun thing to draw."

Fleming said he wasn’t expecting to win the contest but getting the prize from the NGCC was just icing on the cake. 

“I wasn’t expecting what happened today, but I’m happy for the experience,” Fleming said. 

Earth Day poster contest winner Wade Fleming stands with Visual Arts Teacher Hailey Fowler and NGCC Founder Bette Holland in front of the earth day posters at Kilough Elementary School on Thursday, April 22, 2021. - photo by Erica Jones

Kilough student and kindergarten through second grade contest winner Tressa Allen said that in making her poster she learned a lot about endangered animals and why they are endangered. 

“While I was drawing it, I was actually thinking about what people are doing to these poor animals,” Allen said. “Like for pandas people keep cutting down trees for wood or for places to build houses and they’re about to go extinct.” 

Allen said that because of what she’s already learned in making her poster, she would love to keep learning more about endangered animals and how to help preserve their habitats. 

“I actually wanna have a day where all the kids make a poster and hang it around the building,” Allen said. “Or we could go on a field trip or learn about how we can help save these animals or learn more.” 

Holland said that in future years NGCC hopes to grow the Earth Day poster project into more than just a one-day contest.

“We’d like to see it get to where everyone can take a day or two or a week to talk about climate change and things that are happening to the planet that we can stop if we act,” Holland said. “So we’ll just keep expanding every year and trying to spread information out.”

Kindergarten through second grade Earth Day poster contest winner Tressa Allen stands with Visual Arts Teacher Hailey Fowler and NGCC Founder Bette Holland in front of the earth day posters at Kilough Elementary School on Thursday, April 22, 2021. - photo by Erica Jones