The Wharton County Soil & Water Conservation District No. 342 in conjunction with the 2021 Texas Conservation Awards sponsored a poster and essay contest on soil and water conservation.

The winners were recognized at the 23rd annual award banquet on May 15 at the Crescent Fairgrounds.

The poster contest was open to students 12 years old and under. The theme was “Healthy Forests equal Healthy Communities.” The district divided the contest into four age groups: 9 years, 10 years, 11 years, and 12 years. The local winners received cash and a ribbon. Fifty-six posters were received from the schools in Wharton County with the best three posters sent to the Region III competition, according to a news release form the district’s office.

In the 9-year-old category, winners were first, Faith Montgomery; second, Lexie Arriaga; third, Mollie Cutrer; and honorable mention, McKayla Ullrich. All attend of New Gulf Elementary School.

In the 10-year-old category, winners were first, Vanessa Prado, of New Gulf Elementary; second, Charles Anderson, of St. Philip; third, Clint McKeon, of St. Philip; and honorable mention, Stella Nohavitza and Julia Farguhar, both of St. Philip.

In the 11-year-old category, winners were first, Elizabeth Ochoa, of Louise Jr. High; second, Fischer Swint, of Louise Jr. High; third, Abigail Torres, of Louise Jr. High; and honorable mention, Natalie Roades, of Louise Jr. High and Mallory Zabodyn, of St. Philip.

In the 12-year-old category, winners were first, Hailey Zapata; second, Blane Popp; third, Lizbeth Gutierrez ; and honorable mention, Brittany Aladana and Caleb Bram. All attend Louise Jr. High.

The essay contest, which received 62 entries from county schools, was open to students 18 years old and younger. The district divides and judges the essays in two categories junior high and high school. The topic for the essay contest was “Healthy Forest equals Healthy Community”.

In the junior high division, winners were, first, Reagan Dutcher, of Wharton Jr. High; second, Ashley Jimenez, of Wharton Jr. High; third, Lane Nuspliger, of Wharton Jr. High; and honorable mention, Mya Wittstruck, of Iago Jr. High, and Erin Miranda, of Wharton Jr. High. Dutcher also placed second in the Area III competition. She received a plaque for this honor.

In the high school division, winners were first, Cody Kramr, of East Bernard High School; second, Summer Ortiz, of Boling High School; third, Stephanie Borges of Boling High School; and honorable mention, Maddy Jay, of Boling High School, and Kyler Sweat, of Boling High School.

Also, honored were Ronnie Wilson with Louise High School for outstanding teacher and the V8 Ranch Sloan Williams Family for outstanding rancher.

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