This Land is Your Land: Poster & Essay Contest Announced

This is a work in progress, but you might as well learn sooner, warts and all. If we don’t bring the kids into the future, there won’t be one worth looking forward to. Parents, grandparents, teachers–please help start the creative juices flowing; the cash prizes might help.

On April 16, you might say some Floyd residents will be looking long and hard at the ground beneath our feet. During the presentation, (see tentative web site) “Land’s Sake: Floyd’s Journey Ahead,” speakers will direct the audience’s attention to the natural beauty and abundant natural resources of Floyd County. They’ll also lift up the challenges and opportunities for gaining from and giving back to the land.

The future of Floyd belongs to our youth. “This Land is Your Land” invites all school-aged students to create either an essay or a poster that explores or celebrates our relationship to the places we love–particularly the outdoor places and our natural surroundings.  This creative effort can result in both a deeper understanding of the “wheres” of our lives, and an increased commitment for and renewed effort towards protecting our local streams, forests, soils and open spaces for the future.

Entries will be in two categories: posters and essays. In each category, the judging will be divided into K-7 and 8-12 grade levels. In each category and grade range, there will be prizes of $50, $25, $15 and $10. All entrants will receive recognition and a small gift.

Essays and posters will respond to one of three designated topics given briefly here: 1. What did the oldest people in your family or community eat before there were supermarkets?; 2. Where I’m From: Complete the story-poem template with details from your land and home, life and memories; and 3. Why should we care about and protect our air, water, soil, wildlife or forests of Floyd County?

Winning essayists and the first ___ runners-up will read their work during the lunch hour on April 16. Posters will be displayed during the hours of _____ on April 16 with their creators available to talk with visitors about their creations. Winning entrants will be notified by ______ (who-when-how). Prizes will be awarded to recipients at the lunch hour, 1145 to 1245 on April 16 at Floyd County High School.

More extensive information about this contest, including more details for essays and posters, judging and submissions, can be found online at _______ and in Floyd County at the Jesse Peterman Library, _______ and ______.

Students of Floyd County, this land is your land. You should be proud; you should be informed and aware; and you should start now with your poster or essay! You WILL be rewarded, and all of us will benefit.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I wish your essay/poster contest well. As a 7th grade teacher, I recommend prizes of $100, 50, and 25. That would cost your committee $450 more than your proposed prizes, but I think a $100 “carrot” will bring out an exponentially greater effort that a $50 top prize.
    Whatever you do, I hope it is very successful!