Students from Laona and Crandon 5th and 6th grades wrote essays for the Forest County Association of Lakes (FCAL) annual essay contest. The topic was “Protecting Nature from Invasive Species.” Students were asked to write a true-life or entirely fictional story of an encounter with an aquatic or terrestrial invasive species in Forest County. In their stories they played the role of a Conservation Hero, protecting wildlife and natural resources such as forests, soil and water. Fictional essays portrayed heroic and creative efforts to destroy the invaders. Real-life essays depicted working with family and friends to protect the lakes and other natural areas.

First, second and third place winners at each school received $100, $50 and $25 cash prizes, respectively. Awards were presented at each school. Essay contest winners and two family members are invited to attend the FCAL annual banquet on October 21. Winning essays will be posted at the Crandon Public Library.

In Michelle Ferm’s 6th grade class in Laona the prize winners are Molly Van Zile (1st place), Arianna Belland (2nd place) and Colton Nowicki (3rd place). Winners in Kathy Krawze’s 5th grade Laona class are Brooklyn Albrecht (1st place), Addie Matuszewski (2nd place) and Sydney Connor (3rd place). In Lindsey Jaeger’s 6th grade class in Crandon prize winners are Wyatt Dennee (1st place), Maggie McGeshick (2nd place) and Nathan Wagoner (3rd place). Winners in Lacey Palubicki’s 5th grade Crandon class are Zaylee Bradley (1st place), Paisley Crum (2nd place) and Unique Jackson (3rd place).

The purpose of FCAL is to work with lake organizations, government agencies and the general public to protect Forest County inland water bodies, environs and watersheds for now and future generations. The essays of our Forest County youth displayed a growing understanding of the dangers of invasive species and a deep desire to actively protect the lands and waters where they live. Our future will lie in the hands of our youth. And it seems that it is in good hands.