The Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association (WI Land+Water) hosted
its 68th Annual Conservation Conference virtually on March 2-5, 2021. The youth speeches are
always the highlight of the conference and usually kick-off the WI Land+Water conference. This
year, with a virtual conference, the Youth Education Committee hosted its 64th Annual
Conservation Awareness Poster and Speaking Contest and first virtual competition.
Students from across Wisconsin submitted their speeches about relevant conservation topics,
and these were judged prior to the start of the conference. WI Land+Water Association
members and guests were able to view the first-place winning speeches and vote on the
conservation posters that were displayed on the virtual conference platform.
The first-place winning speakers from the elementary, junior and senior divisions were viewed
by over 400 conservation professionals and guests from across the state. Speeches had to
address a relevant, soil and water conservation issue, with emphasis on the impact of the issue
in their locality or in Wisconsin.

For the poster contest, the first-place winners in the primary, elementary, middle, junior and
senior division will move on to represent Wisconsin at the National Association of Conservation
Districts (NACD) Poster Contest held at the NACD annual meeting in 2022. The conservation
poster awareness theme this year was “Healthy Forests=Healthy Communities.”
“Despite all of the challenges that this pandemic has presented this past year, we were thrilled
that so many students from across the state of Wisconsin participated in our virtual
conservation awareness poster and speaking contests,” said Matt Krueger, WI Land+Water
Executive Director.

The conservation awareness poster and speaking contests are two of the many programs that
the Youth Education Committee coordinates to educate and inspire Wisconsin’s youth about
the importance of stewardship and caring for our natural resources.

“It is encouraging to know that students took the time to research and speak out about
compelling conservation topics and took the time to share their viewpoints on how healthy
forests=healthy communities,” added Krueger. “Congratulations to the winning speeches and
posters and thank you to all of the students for your hard work and your commitment to
protecting and conserving our natural resources.”

The topics of the winning speeches were:
• “Live at 6-Interview with a Homeless Prairie Chicken,” by Caydie Thompson from
Trempealeau County, discussing the importance of native Prairie Chickens as an
indicator species helping to determine the health of our prairie ecosystems;
• “Healthy Forest, Healthy You” by Joseph Jarrell from Washburn County discussing how
forests are critical to our communities, health and environment;
• “Not so Boring News” by Paige Lietz from Marquette County, highlighting the negative
impact the Emerald Ash Borer has had on most of the Ash trees in our state.

Elementary Division: First place: Caydie Thompson, Trempealeau County, “Live at 6-Interview
with a Homeless Prairie Chicken”; Second place: Malia Szews, Oneida County, “Susie’s Quest”;
Third place: Keewin Wilson, Iron County, “Help Save Our World-Fight Climate Change.”
Junior Division: First place: Joseph Jarrell, Washburn County, “Healthy Forest, Healthy You”;
Second place: Emelia Berg, Pierce County, “Eastern Whippoorwill”; Third Place: N/A
Senior Division: First place: Paige Lietz, Marquette County, “Not so Boring News?”; Second
place: Gabriel Traicoff, Barron County, “Our Home and Climate Change” Third place: Annika
Waltenberg, Portage County, “Invasive, Evil, Delicious”

Primary Division: (K-1) First Place: Kamden Freund, Portage County; Second Place: Mackenna
Herrild, Sauk County; Third Place: Louise Witt, Douglas County.
Elementary Division: (2-3) First Place: Flynn Bushman, Shawano County; Second Place: Preston
Christianson, Portage County; Third Place: Kallie Sadler, Sauk County.
Middle Division: (4-6) First Place: Olivia Cordeiro, Ozaukee County; Second Place: Rylee Olson,
Monroe County; Third Place: Laurena Sauer, Clark County.
Junior Division: (7-9) First Place: Madeline Fuller, Outagamie County; Second Place: Aliya
Cynor, Shawano County; Third Place: Robert Merklein, Washington County.
Senior Division: (10-12) First Place: Sophia Roth, Green County; Second Place: Grace Bergeron,
Brown County; Third Place: Ahnna Bautch, Trempealeau County

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .