Shavano Conservation District

Azure Wallace, left and Edward Rozek of Columbine Middle School, show off their grand champion’s artwork which swept the top honors at the Shavano Conservation District annual conservation poster contest. The winning entries will also compete in the state contest.

They absolutely nailed it.

Azure Wallace and Edward Rozek of Columbine Middle School walked away together, sharing the top prize in the annual soil conservation poster contest sponsored by the Shavano Conservation District (SCVD) and the Colorado State Conservation Board, Colorado Department of Agriculture. The final judging recently took place.

The theme of this year’s contest was “Life in the Soil: Dig Deeper.” The pair exhibited a solid understanding of life in the soil and were able to show it in their illustrative artwork. Azure’s work displayed the constant life in the soil including earthworms, insects, rodents and microbes. Healthy soil depends on the activity of these things. Edward demonstrated the stratification of good soil showing how plant roots used the various layers.

The contest supplies and prize money were made possible this year through matching funds received by the SCD from the Colorado State Conservation Board (Department of Agriculture). One of the goals of the SCD is to connect youngsters with the food source.

“Students today are so far removed from where their food comes from and the role healthy soils have in providing the food they eat,” said Mendy Stewart, education coordinator for the SCD. “They take soil for granted — that soil will always be available for a farmer somewhere to grow food they need.”

Stewart said that programs like the CSCB Matching Funds grants and the conservation poster contest provide an opportunity for local conservation districts to bring awareness to students that we all need to be concerned about soil that is right under our feet and in our community, and that even at their young age they can take steps to keep soil healthy.

The poster contest is conducted in the fifth and sixth grade classes in the schools within the district. The Shavano Conservation District involves eastern Montrose County, western Gunnison County, all of Ouray County and a “sliver” of Delta County. Much of what the students know about soils and their conservation came through the SCD program that puts experts in the classroom to talk and demonstrate to the students soil conservation and development.

“They get it,” Stewart said. “They are very interested in what we are talking about. Even the youngsters who are from farms take notice and find out it is something they know about that the other kids don’t.”

First, second and third prizes ribbon and cash prizes were awarded in each of the participating schools. The two grand champions, Wallace and Rozek will compete in the Colorado Association of Conservation District Poster Contest. They will receive their prizes and ribbons at the annual SCD Banquet on March 14 at the Ute Indian Museum.

The SCD prize winners (first, second and third) are: Northside Elementary School: Yazmin Aquilerz, Antonia Rodriques and Andera Hernandez. Olathe Elementary School: Darby Christensen, Kamila Gonzalez, and Ariana Mora. Ridgway Elementary School: Stella Hinojos, Thea Mahlin, Anna Countryman. Columbine Middle School: Emry Hall, Madi Field, Faith Breshears.

Michael A. Cox is a Montrose-based content provider. He may be reached at michaelc@agwriter.us

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