Students Called to Explore Kentucky’s Mighty Oaks

Annual Jim Claypool Art and Writing Contest now open

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 9, 2020) – Students of all ages can explore Kentucky’s mighty oaks through this year’s Jim Claypool Art and Conservation Writing contests. 

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, in cooperation with the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts and the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation sponsor the annual contest and provide materials that can be used in classrooms or at home to help students learn about the year’s topic. Articles, suggested projects, fun facts and trivia have been provided to help students understand the importance and benefits of trees, and the impact oak trees in particular have on Kentucky’s economy, environment and forest health.

“All Kentuckians benefit when our natural environment is preserved and thriving,” said Gov. Beshear. “By teaching our kids the importance of protecting trees and planting new ones, we set them up for a safer, healthier future.”

The art contest for students in grades one through five, and a writing contest for students in grades six through 12, allow students to use the knowledge they have gained about the topic and transform it into creative artwork and written essays.

Paulette Akers, director of the Kentucky Division of Conservation said, “Trees are so important to Kentucky’s biodiversity and our economy. It’s increasingly important that we teach our youngsters about forest conservation, and the important role trees play in our way of life. The Jim Claypool Art and Conservation Writing contest allows those fundamentals to be taught in a fun and easy to understand manner.”

The art and conservation writing contests began in 1974 and 1944, respectively. James B. Claypool was the first assistant director of the Division of Conservation and was hired in 1947. He became director in 1960. A Warren County native, Claypool was a graduate of Western Kentucky University and taught vocational-agriculture at Bradfordsville and Greensburg High schools. As director of the division, he was instrumental in the establishment of conservation education. He died in February, 1974.

During this year’s contest, students will learn about the anatomy of and the numerous products made from trees, including bourbon barrels; how trees affect Kentucky’s water and soil; and specifics about oak trees and Kentucky’s champion trees. They will then create essays or posters to show what they have learned. 

“We’re proud to be a part of this cooperative effort,” said Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman. “This is a creative project that encourages students to get outside, learn more about conservation and the environment, and it supports our educators and students alike during an otherwise difficult and challenging time.”

Schools and home school students should choose their winning entries and submit those to the local conservation district by December 1. The county will then narrow the entries and send finalists to the Cabinet for state judging.

Students can earn monetary prizes at the school, county, regional and state levels. County winners will receive $25 from the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation. Area winners receive $50. State first, second and third place winners receive $250, $150 and $50 respectively. Many local conservation districts and other sponsors also provide prizes. 

For more information about the contest, please visit your local conservation district office or http://bit.ly/ClaypoolArtWritingContest.

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