2015-11-19 / Editorial Page

Poster contest’s 26th year highlights the importance of all wildlife and native plants

Teachers and students across Georgia are invited to honor Geor­gia’s wildlife and students’ artistic interests by participating in the 26th annual Give Wildlife a Chance Poster Contest.

The goal of the competition, open to grades K-5, is to generate a greater knowledge and appreciation of Georgia’s diverse and increas­ingly threatened nongame wildlife and their habitats. Nongame spe­cies (those not legally hunted or fished for) vary from rare animals and plants such as the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and the hooded pitcherplant to common species such as the northern cardinal and flowering dogwood.

This popular art contest is spon­sored by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the State Bo­tanical Garden of Georgia and The Environmental Resources Network (TERN), friends group of DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section. The theme for the 2015-16 school year is “Every Species Matters!”

The topic highlights how wild animals and native plants, great and small, enrich our lives and serve special roles in the environment.

To make sure all species survive and stay healthy, natural resource agencies and organizations follow the State Wildlife Action Plan, a guide on how to best conserve wild­life and habitats before they become too rare or costly to protect. The plan identifies many species that need special attention because their num­bers are declining or threats to their survival are increasing. Some of these “species of concern” include the spotted skunk, barn owl, gopher frog, tangerine darter, Coosawattee crayfish, rusty-patched bumblebee and hairy rattleweed. For a com­plete list of species in the State Wildlife Action Plan, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/ wildlife-action-plan.

After creating artwork based on this year’s theme while abiding by the contest rules, participants will enter their drawings and paintings at the local school level. Top school- level entries then proceed to the state contest at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens. First-, second- and third-place winners are chosen there for four divisions: kindergarten, first and second grade, third and fourth grade, and fifth grade. The deadline for schools to submit state-level entries is April 8, 2016.

The top 12 state-level winners’ artwork will be showcased on the DNR Wildlife Resources Division Flickr and Instagram websites as well as displayed at the State Botani­cal Garden in Athens May 11- 17.

The State Botanical Garden of­fers a fascinating variety of plants as well as opportunities to view wildlife in the fields and forests. Admission is free, although dona­tions are accepted. For directions, operating hours and a garden map, visit http://botgarden.uga.edu.

As a special perk for supporting this contest, each state-level win­ner’s teacher and one parent will receive a free bald eagle license plate, courtesy of TERN! For con­test rules, awards, entry forms and other information, visit www.geor­giawildlife.com/PosterContest.

The Nongame Conservation Sec­tion, part of Georgia DNR’s Wild­life Resources Division, is charged with conserving nongame wildlife, including native plants and natural habitats. Only a deep concern and commitment to these natural re­sources will ensure their existence for future generations. The section depends primarily on fundraisers such as sales and annual renewals of the eagle and hummingbird li­cense plates and the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff.

Learn more at www.georgiawild­life.com/Conservation/Support, or call Nongame Conservation Section offices in Social Circle (770-761- 3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218).

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