Eco-contest rewards knowledge

Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Caitlin Stewart (left) awarded Wheelerville Union Free School’s Georgiana Angus, Tavien Blowers, McKenzie Negron, Viktorija Izzo, Logan Smith, and Nicholas Lorenz certificates and ribbons for their Conservation Field Day posters and essays. (Photo submitted)

Caroga Lake — Conservation Field Day contest winners were honored at an awards ceremony held Dec. 6 at Wheelerville Union Free School. Twenty-three fifth- and sixth-graders received certificates, ribbons, and prizes for their essays and posters composed on the theme “Conserving Hamilton County’s Natural Resources.”

The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District hosts the contests annually in conjunction with their Conservation Field Day event.

The 38th annual Lynn Galusha Memorial Conservation Field Day was held Sept. 22 on the Adirondack Ecotrail behind the District office in Lake Pleasant. Students from five area schools hiked the trail to six stations and listened carefully to presenters while they jotted down notes to include in their essays and posters.

Stations included Power from the Sun (Dean Nervik, Suncatcher Homestead); the Big Bad Wolf (Christine Campeau, Adirondack Experience); Invasive Species of the Adirondacks (Zachary Simek, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program); Leave No Trace (John Ploss and Dave Kallen, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation); the Incredible Journey of the Water Cycle (Jackie Howard and Jeff Sann, Adirondack Watershed Institute); and Soil Health (Tom Bielli, Natural Resources Conservation Service).

After lunch, the day concluded with a final presentation from Department of Environmental Conservation Officer Matthew LaCroix and his service dog Diesel who displayed obedience commands, tracking techniques, and object location.

“My students learned a great deal and really enjoyed their time at the Conservation District facility,” said sixth-grade teacher Irene Sinicropi.

Once all essays and posters were received, contest judge Diane Galusha-Niznik ranked entries on set criteria.

“It was no easy task to judge the essays and posters because these kids meet the goals that were set out for them,” said Galusha-Niznik.

Wheelerville’s winners

Out of 37 area students who participated in the poster contest, Tavien Blowers received overall third place. He was awarded a special certificate, rosette ribbon, and a ticket to the Adirondack Experience museum. He placed first for his school. The other school wide poster contest winners were McKenzie Negron, second; and Georgiana Angus, third.

The school-wide essay contest winners were Logan Smith, first; Viktorija Izzo, second; and Nicholas Lorenz, third.

During the award ceremony, all students who participated in the contests received certificates of merit. School wide winners received certificates and ribbons.

“This year’s event was made extra special thanks to donations from the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Experience, Alicia C. Miller Real Estate, Inc., Gadway Realty, Great Camp Sagamore, NBT Bank, Oak Mountain, the Oxbow Lake Motel, LLC., Seedway, LLC., Tanners Outdoor Sports, Inc., and the Wild Center,” said District Conservation Educator Caitlin Stewart. “I also thank volunteers Ed Winchell and Diane Galusha Niznik who helped make the event a tremendous success.”

Visit for a video, photos, and a complete list of overall winners from this year’s event.

The District has been working to manage and promote the wise use of natural resources in Hamilton County since 1965.

For more information go to or call (518) 548-3991.