Northwoods Poster Contest Promotes Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness

Working in the educational outreach branch of conservation can prompt feelings of uncertainty.  Do our messages reach the target audience?  Is the message clear and easily understood?  Most importantly, are we helping people understand how they can help slow the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS)?  In short, are we making a difference?

When students living in the lake-rich Northwoods coin phrases like, “Keep our waters great, don’t dump bait,” “AIS, please respect and inspect,” and “Remove it or lose it,” you feel reassured that your message is reaching an important audience.

Second place artwork by Niki Lee (7th-9th grades).

Second place artwork by Niki Lee (7th-9th grades).

The annual Northwoods Aquatic Invasive Species Poster Contest was started in 2012 in Oneida County, home to some of Wisconsin’s most popular lakes, by Oneida County’s Land and Water Conservation Department.  The goal was to engage students in fourth through 12th grades in raising awareness of AIS and the problems the invaders pose for the students’ lake-rich county.

Based on its initial success, the contest expanded to include the students from Elcho, Langlade County in the second year.  Now, the contest has expanded again to include the nine counties generally encompassing Wisconsin’s Northwoods.  “Aquatic invasive species don’t recognize county lines, so we decided the poster contest shouldn’t either,” explained Michele Sadauskas, Oneida County AIS coordinator.

First place artwork by David York (4th-6th grades).

First place artwork by David York (4th-6th grades).

Each year, one winner and two runners-up are honored in each age group.  First place contestants win a medal, a lake book for their school library and an award ceremony for their classroom.  The ceremony includes the awarding of the medal, treats for the entire class, and a question-and-answer session on invasive species with the local AIS team.

“The benefits of the contest don’t end with raising student awareness,” Sadauskus says. Student slogans and posters have become centerpieces in efforts to raise AIS awareness among boaters and anglers.  Posters and slogans have appeared on real estate style signs, at boat landing kiosks and in presentations.  The posters and slogans have been adopted for AIS prevention programs by individual lake associations, some of which are supported by DNR grants for AIS education, prevention and planning projects.  Rhinelander television station WJFW broadcast a visit to a fifth-grade classroom when students were preparing posters for the contest and further spread AIS awareness.  Sadauskas said, “The kids loved it!”

First place artwork by Maggie Laurance (7th-9th grade)

First place artwork by Maggie Laurance (7th-9th grades).

This spring while attending an awards ceremony for a State Land and Water Poster contest, a young student approached Sadauskas and said, “You came to our classroom last year for the AIS poster contest because the winning poster came from my class.  Do you remember Mrs. Hunter’s class?”  The student then asked about this year’s contest.

Michele smiled, “This is when you know you have made a difference.”

Winners for 2013 in the 4th-6th grade division:

Third place artwork by Vincent Strong (4th-6th grades).

Third place artwork by Vincent Strong (4th-6th grades).

First –  David York

Second- Hannah Hoffhein

Third – Vincent Strong

Winners for 2013 in the 7th-9th grade division:

First- Maggie Laurence

Second – Niki Lee

Third – Daniel Lundquist

Learn more about the Northwoods poster contest and rules at www.oneidacountyais.com or find them on FaceBook.

Entry written by Michael S. Putnam (DNR water resources management specialist) and Michele Sadauskas (Oneida County AIS coordinator).
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4 Responses to Northwoods Poster Contest Promotes Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness

  1. Marie Rubietta says:

    Really impressive, thoughtful ideas and artwork. That’s a great way to get the message across. (When the kids learn the dangers, they can teach their parents!)

  2. Suzie Rabideau says:

    I think it is great there are kids our there who see the worth in working to inform the adult public.
    Is there a plan to publish these drawings? Maybe in Calendar form? Can the drawings for be used at our boat landings?

    thanks

    Suzie Rabideau.

    • mikeputnam says:

      Suzie,
      Michele replies to your fine questions:
      Michele Sadauskas says in reply to your good questions:
      In the past we have distributed a one-page poster calendar. In 2014, we will be creating and distributing a 12-month calendar! The calendars will be geared towards students, but will have universal appeal. We are thrilled that lake groups and others wish to use the messages at landings, on kiosks, and in businesses. We are happy to provide electronic copies to interested groups. We only ask that the student artist is given credit on the outreach material and that they are recognized as winners in the Northwoods Aquatic Invasive Species Poster Contest.

      You can contact Michele at: msadauskas@co.oneida.wi.us or 715-369-7836

  3. Cody Rebischke says:

    I’m highly impressed by the artistic expression of our citizens. This is a good indication that our citizens have been trained appropriately for the current available awareness. I see this is just the beginning of a great shift in priorities of our citizens. Public participation is the key to all of our success. Our future is decided by the citizens available awareness. We must all focus on better ways to conserve, preserve, and restore our natural resources. Keep up the great work!

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