SWCD banquet honors local conservationists

At the Simpson County Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual banquet on April 3, five local conservationists were honored with top awards, and 18 young people were recognized as essay and poster award winners.

The Friend of Conservation Award for promoting conservation in the county went to Sarah Gillespie of Strong River Camp and Farm.  The Grazingland Award for applying good conservation practices in cattle raising was given to Ben Warren.

Keith Williamson won the Woodland Award for managing timber production, preserving forest lands and helping timber producers develop good conservation practices.

The Wildlife Award for preservation of wildlife habitat in the county went to Phil Cliburn, and Jonathan Jones was named the Poultry Award winner for protecting and conserving natural resources in the production of poultry.

This year’s theme for the annual poster and essay contests was “Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home.  The poster contest is open to students in grades K-5.  The essay contest is open to the county’s high school juniors.

Poster Contest winners in the K-1st Grade Division were Addisyn Woodall, first place; Eli Cooper, second place; and Jasmyn Faith Kell, third place.  Second-3rd Grade winners were Conner Pittman, first place; Lilah Gentry, second place; Kambri Hollins, third place.  Fourth-5th grade winners were Lauren Brown, first place; Gaby Robertson, second place; William Reid Johnson, third place.

First place winners in each division received a cash award and will go on to the district competition among students representing 21 Mississippi counties.

The Essay Contest is open to any county high school junior.  Judges will select one first place winner’s essay to go on to the district essay competition.

Essay contest winners from Mendenhall High School were Kennedy Hanna, first place; Candice McCullum, second place; Brandon Walker, third place.  Simpson Academy winners were Lexie Hubbard, first place; Leahbeth Luckey, second place; Mary K. Toombs, third place.

Essay contest winners are eligible to attend Youth Conservation Camp this summer.  The first two applications received in the county SWCD office will be chosen for the all-expense paid camp.  College scholarships are also available to these winners.

Teachers who promoted conservation in their classrooms were recognized at the event, which was held at Berry’s Seafood Restaurant in Magee.