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2010 Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards

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Senior prose, First place

Answering the Call

By Christine Koneazny
Spokane, Wa.

I glare down at my walkie talkie. Not working. Again.
I groan quietly, and move the compound bow in my hands as I shove the radio back into my pocket.
I lean against the large pine behind me, gently placing my bow on the ground. The thick layer of snow beneath me crunches as I shift my feet, trying to keep my toes from freezing in my hunting boots.
I hold my gloved hands up to my face, breathing out a gust of warm air. My eyes scour the area for deer as I try to put some warmth back into my fingers. I shiver as a small chunk of snow falls from the tree above and slips down my jacket. I gaze at the thickness of the surrounding trees. Bare, pale branches, covered with a thin veil of snow, reach toward the sky, some brushing against the heavy-laden boughs of the pines.
The rising sun is causing crazy rainbows of color to be thrown off the ice-covered trees. I take a deep breath filled with tastes of pine and snow, bringing a clear freshness to my head.
I close my eyes as I lean my head back against the tree. Nothing is stirring, not even the birds are awake yet. For that matter, neither am I usually at this time. I glance at my watch. 6:30.
I close my eyes again and picture myself in the warm kitchen up at our hunting cabin, a cup of hot coffee in my hands. I see in my mind our little cabin, nestled sweetly in the mountains, a thin trail of smoke curling into the still dark air as my dad and I headed off this morning.
A loud crunch surprises me, and my eyes fly open. My body is instantly frozen as I behold a massive and unbelievable buck only a few yards away. My breath catches in my throat as I watch it calmly picking its way in my direction.
I stare, awestruck, at the incredible rack crowning its head. Two…four…six…twelve…fourteen points!
I feel myself getting dizzy from excitement, and my hands go up, but they’re not holding my bow! My gaze slowly slides down to the bow on the ground, leaning on the tree, right where I left it.
I slowly inch my hand down toward it, freezing every time the buck stops of glances my way. Inch…freeze…inch. My cold fingers finally wrap around it, grasp it harder, and slowly pull it back to me.
I slide an arrow from my quiver, stopping dead as they knock together. The buck glances up sharply. I stop breathing. We stand there for what seems like forever, me barely breathing and not moving, him tilting his head and taking deep breaths in the air. He finally looks down, spotting something worth munching.
I breathe out in sections while slowly lifting my bow and arrow into position. The buck starts moving again, getting closer with every heart-stopping second. I draw back, ready to release at any second. My breathing speeds up, my arms trembling. As I’m about to release – my walkie talkies gives a shrill blast.
The deer and I both jump, my arrow glancing off a nearby tree, the deer bounding off through the snow.
With shaking hands I draw out the walkie talkie. “Yes?”
“Hey Hon, I think you can start making your way down towards the river, then up to the cabin,” my dad’s voice crackles out from the speaker.
“Kay, sure,” I mumble, still staring toward where the buck had been.
If only I’d been faster, if only I’d been holding my bow in the first place, if only the dead walkie talkie…
I shake my head. No point now.
A single bird breaks into song as I pass under its tree, and I smile. I can see the deer’s trail leading off in the other direction as I pass the place where he’d been standing. I tilt my head back and stare at the gradually brightening sky.
Then I smile as I pick up my arrow from the ground and tuck it back into its container. I can’t wait to tell Dad about this as I set off plodding in the snow, leaving behind a trail of footprints and tracks proving a truly magical moment.♦

Senior prose, Second place

Another pheasant tale

By Kimberly Moy
Cokato, Minn.
“As told by Chessy, my Chesapeake Lab…”
I wobbled on my paws as I paced to and fro in the back end of the old, grey pickup while it bounced down the uneven dirt road. I was shaking with excitement when it wheezed to a stop. We were going hunting, had to be, that was the only time I ever got to ride in the truck.
I peered out the grimy window as the man and the girl climbed out of the cab. My mouth watered as I caught a whiff of bacon and something dead and, ohhhhh, beef! I licked my chops then stopped suddenly as my hair stood on end. There was another dog here. I stared out the window, squinting as he came into view.
No, I whined as I jumped around in the back, Don’t leave me and take him. Please, I promise I’ll be good.
After what felt like eons, the topper flipped open and the girl looked at me. “Chessy” she scolded when she saw my puddle of excitement soaking the carpet. She dropped the tailgate, I leapt out and was right up in that other dog’s face in a split second. He was not coming with if I had anything to do with it! We exchanged fightin’ words, but as he attempted to attack he was dragged off by a strange man and locked in a truck.
Satisfied, I followed the man and girl down a field driveway, rushing here and dashing there to roll on a dead sparrow, pee on a dirt clod, and rub my face in the snow. Eventually we reached a line of trees. I could smell squirrels and rabbits and… pheasants! I raced towards the brush ready to get them.
“Chessy!” the man called. I turned and glanced back at him. Couldn’t he see that I was getting the birds? I bolted into the trees immediately busting up a roost. Three birds burst out and soared into the sky. One bird cackled mid-flight, and I knew it was a boy. Shoot! Shoot! I thought as I chased after them waiting to hear a deadly bang, but there was only the flapping of wings. I looked at the man and girl; they looked disgusted.
“Chessy, come here!” the man demanded, but I could smell another bird, so I dashed into the trees. Hey! I yelped as I was zapped with a string of electricity. I raced to them and sat down pouting.
“Do you have a gun? Huh? Did you shoot the bird?” the man asked me. I just stared back. “I didn’t think so! Stay by us!” the man warned.
We slowly made our way back through the trees. The last bird I detected was a girl. After the trees we went down by the swamp. The cattails were thick and snowcoated. I couldn’t smell anything, and decided rather than break my own path I would just follow the man. We trudged in, my feet growing cold as ice froze between my toes. I was getting thirsty and hungry. Where were the birds?
As if it were answering my questions, a whiff of pheasant filled my nose. I broke off the path darting through the cattails. It was growing stronger. Here, no, there! I leapt into the heart of the smell, a clump of weeds expecting a bird, but it was empty.
Suddenly, I heard a rustle in the underbrush. The bird! I bulldozed that direction, and the bird burst through into the sky. My heart flipped from my mouth to my stomach as I chased it up.
“Rooster!” the man hollered. I heard one explosion, then another.
“I got him!” the girl yelled. I had heard him hit the ground and was already trucking in that direction. I circled once, twice, three times. Where was he? Concentrate, Chessy, I told myself. Oh, there he is! I pounced on him, already stone dead and carried him to the girl.
“Give,” she coaxed, pulling at the bird, “Give!” I held firm. “Chessy give!” she demanded pulling my lower jaw and yanking out the bird. “Got him!” she yelled. “Good boy Chessy,” she praised as she scratched my ears. I stood there for a moment, enjoying my moment in the sun, then darted off to find another bird.♦

Senior prose, Third place

John Muir: America’s Most Famous Environmentalist

By Stephanie Erin Sykes
Madison, Wisc.
We live in a fast-paced world of technology and high-stress jobs. In a society where every minute is planned out, it is a relief to know that there are still pockets of wilderness. We can escape to wild places when we need a break.
These gems of rough landscape in North America offer refuge to those who still wish to connect with their planet and appreciate the raw beauty of nature. In today’s modern world many people still rely on the plants, animals, and peace these landscapes offer. They bring a kind of refuge from the chaos.
This really isn’t very surprising. Natural areas take people’s breath away. It has always been that way.
John Muir was one of these people.
♦♦♦
John Muir is most famous for drawing up the boundaries for Yosemite National Park. He advocated the creation of the park, writing articles and co-founding the Sierra Club.
The adventures of Muir’s youth lead many people today to think of him as a successor to famous environmental pioneers like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Many of the ideas Muir eventually shared with the world were developed during the time he spent wandering about Yosemite.
Born in Dunbar, Scotland, in 1838, Muir grew up the son of a Calvinist shopkeeper. At age eleven, he immigrated to the United States with his family and settled near Portage, Wisconsin. He spent the remainder of his youth working on his family farm. As a youngster Muir read everything he could get his hands on and immersed himself in learning. He originally planned to become an inventor, and many gadgets were attributed to him. Muir chose to devote his life to the study of nature.
Muir decided he wanted to see the great Amazon River. With almost no money he walked from Kentucky to Florida, intending to journey all the way to South America. He contracted malaria in Florida’s Cedar Key, and the illness derailed his adventure. He chose instead to sail to California via the Panama Canal. When he arrived he asked a merchant to direct him towards “anywhere that is wild.”
He was sent to Yosemite. The year was 1868.
John Muir’s first visit to the Yosemite area lasted only ten days. Yet later entries in his meticulously kept journal make it apparent he was smitten with its unique natural beauty, and intended to return as soon as possible.
Muir was not the only nineteenth century traveler who was fascinated by the beauty of this part of California. By the time Muir arrived in Yosemite, people had already been journeying there for years to “celebrate God in Nature.”
The first American visitors to the region were the Mariposa Battalion, who rode into Yosemite in 1851, chasing the Ahwahneechee Indians. They drove the tribe out of the area, and returned to their homes victorious. They also brought home tales of breathtaking meadows and waterfalls, bordered by deep gorges and steep cliffs.
A few years later tourists began to arrive in the area, and by the 1860s a steady flow of visitors was traveling from San Francisco to spend their summers among the towering sequoias in “Mariposa Grove.” More adventurous visitors would descend into the valley to stay in the few rustic cabins that existed there at the time.
♦♦♦
After Niagara Falls was established as a public park, a group of Californians asked President Abraham Lincoln to sign into law an act that set aside Mariposa Grove “for public use, resort and recreation.” These people loved Yosemite Valley and the surrounding area, just as Muir soon would.
Parts of what would one day become one of America’s most cherished places were set aside as a protected natural area under the jurisdiction of the state of California. It remains one of our nation’s most famous and most coveted places.
Arriving to the area in 1868, John Muir would play a leading role in protecting Yosemite and creating Planet Earth’s most extensive and impressive national park system.
♦♦♦
After a year’s separation from his beloved Yosemite, Muir returned to the area in 1869 with the intention of residing in the valley permanently. Muir worked as a shepherd in the Tuolumne Meadows of the High Sierra, where he spent his first long period of time immersing himself in the beauty of the area. Exploring this rugged terrain soon became the main focus of Muir’s life. He was the first person to climb to the top of the 10,911-foot tall Cathedral Peak. He then ran a sawmill for James Hutchings who owned the Hutchings House hotel, which took in visitors to the valley. Muir guided guests on hikes.
In November of 1869 he enlisted the help of his friend Harry Randall to build a cabin. The one-room structure was just as saturated with nature as the valley outside its door. Muir allowed ferns and vines to grow through the floor, and diverted Yosemite Creek so that it would run beneath his floor. He fell asleep every night to the sound of frogs chirping.
This close interaction with and heartfelt enthusiasm for nature are important reasons why people still love John Muir today. He did not just offer detached ideas about our natural world. He incorporated his personal experiences into the beliefs he held.
We can learn more about John Muir from the famous British writer Theresa Yelverton, who came to Yosemite as a tourist in 1870. Yelverton described him as sloppy in appearance. She also noted that he was interesting, intellectual, enthusiastic, and fully engaged in what he did. Shortly after meeting Lady Yelverton, Muir left Yosemite again.
Upon his return in January 1871, Muir re-dedicated himself to learning about the natural world. He spent his Sundays studying the area’s geology, plants, and animals. He lived in the park for the next 22 months. He spent many weeks visiting the park’s most remote areas. Muir spent hours here filling journals with observations and ideas about the park.
Joseph LaConte, a noted scientist, was impressed by Muir’s work. Le Conte convinced Muir to publish his theory that Yosemite Valley was not formed by a prehistoric cataclysm, but rather by glacial activity. The article appeared in the New York Tribune in 1871.
Muir also spent time with Ralph Waldo Emerson. They traveled together to Muir’s beloved Mariposa Valley. Muir was becoming a well-known figure.
By the end of 1872 Muir was making appearances in cities throughout California and writing frequently for nature magazines. Nonetheless, part of him simply wanted to stay in the park. He was torn between fighting for the park he loved, and simply loving the park in solitude. He decided that it was his responsibility to go out and protect the wilderness he loved so much. As he grew older, Muir became a respected elder statesman of American Conservation.
In 1889 he camped with Robert Underwood Johnson, the editor of Century Magazine, in the area of Tuolumne Meadows. During their adventure they drew up boundaries for a 1,200-square-mile Yosemite National Park. The plan was passed by Congress the following year.
In 1903 he camped with the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. The two men evaded the Secret Service and escaped into Yosemite’s wilderness for three days. Many historians believe it was during this time that Muir persuaded the President to expand America’s national park system. Muir also persuaded Roosevelt to combine Mariposa Valley and Mariposa Grove, making Yosemite even bigger.
In 1906 Muir fought hard against the proposal to build a dam in Yosemite. His efforts failed, and Congress allowed the dam to be built in Hetch Hetchy Valley in 1913. A year later John Muir died of pneumonia at the age of 76.
The creation of this dam led to a push for the creation of the National Park Service and increased protection for all of the country’s national parks. These goals were achieved in 1916.♦

Senior poetry, First place

The Naturalists

By Erica Berry
Portland, Ore.
Day I
We swam in the lake today.
Molted out sticky tee-shirts
And slithered, shrieking.
I tried to open my eyes
Underwater; it stung,
Filled my eyelids with ice,
Pushed heavy against pupils.
Later, we peeled on boulders,
Flicked ants with our fingernails,
Loving August wrapped around our necks.
Day II
Today I discovered a new kind of fish.
It stared me down, silver scales winking.
I lost the game, looked away my eyes cloaked in
The mountain-melt of last year’s snowmen.
I choked on sunlight through the water —
Came up sputtering like a common trout.
You left me to hike around the lake while
I piled sticks for the fire. Last night
We didn’t plan, were forced to burn our shoes —
Rubber’s twisted grimace in the ashes today.
Day III
You got lost yesterday, courting the mountains.
The fire licked the tips of pines,
Of whispering birds, of the stars themselves.
Moon swollen, I waited for you on the rock,
The ants were asleep. I couldn’t feel my toes,
Dipped them in the lake, the fish kissed
them goodnight.
You stumbled home this morning —
We ate oysters from a tin.
Tomorrow, we find the trail.
You say we can crawl on our stomachs,
You say we can sing songs from summer camp.♦

Senior poetry, Second place

First Hunting Adventures

By Kaitlyn Rabaey
Marshall, Minn.
Nature surrounds us,
Me, Dad, and Nug,
Dad and I walking,
Nugget chasing a bug.
Guns by our sides,
Wearing oranges vests,
All I can feel is my
Heart in my chest.
Farther we walk,
Down the trail ahead,
“I’m going to flush the birds,
out of the forest,” Dad said.
Alone there I stood,
Scanning nature for grouse.
I suddenly saw one
And became quiet as a mouse.
“Dad, I see one,
a male, in a tree!”
“Then shoot it,” he said.
“You can do it, Katy!”
So up went my gun,
My left eye shut tight.
I focused on that bird,
With all of my might.
Off went my gun,
The shot ringing loud.
I knew that my dad,
Would be ever so proud.
Needless to say,
Later that night,
We enjoyed grouse by the fire,
A special delight.♦

Senior Poetry, Third place

Gone Huntin’

By Nathan Kennedy
Rensselaer Falls, N.Y.
Gun in hand gear on back
I took the icy steps.
Before the sun a frost had come
The moon showed every breath.
To my delight the sun did light
Each branch and leaf there was.
Painted tree with snow I see as
November often does.
And I come as did the sun
On yonder ridge I’ll sit.
With gust or blows of
Sleet or snow
I’ll be content with it.
From here this day I’ll sit and say
There’s nowhere else so fine.
So here I’ll wait this frosty morn
And let the hunt be mine.♦

Junior prose, First place

My First Bird (and a decoy!)

By Cole Meade
Seaman, Ohio
The first time I ever went hunting with my dad, we were chasing turkeys during the fall in Adams County, Ohio. I was 8 years old, and the season was about to end.
My twin brother, Trey, and I went with our dad, Rob, to our hunting spot. We were going to hunt from a blind. Not long after we got in the blind, both my brother and I were sleeping as the sun warmed us. When we woke up, we got the giggles and even though we heard a bird yelping, Dad ended the hunt because we couldn’t stop laughing and it was getting dark.
The spring after we turned 9 years old, we took our hunter safety course so we could hunt turkeys. We went several times but did not have any luck. We heard a lot of birds but were not able to get a shot.
In the spring of 2008, we got to hunt turkeys again. On the second day of the season, Trey was lucky enough to get a shot on a turkey. He was rewarded with a longbeard that had a $100 band on its leg. He was excited and I was happy for him but wanted a bird, too. I had a couple of close calls that season but was not able to close the deal on a bird.
I was anxious for the 2009 spring season to start. I hoped that I would be able to put a tag on my first bird.
Youth season came and went without a chance for a shot. I was disappointed but still hoping that things would come together for me.
It was May 3. We woke up at 4:45 a.m. to get ready for the hunt. It was raining outside, but not very hard. We arrived at our hunting spot at 5:30 a.m. My dad left me in the truck while he went to set up the blind. We were going to hunt from a field where my dad had seen a bird strutting on two other hunts.
After Dad got the blind set up, he came back to the truck to get me. He sent me to the blind with the chairs so he could move the truck. When he got back to the blind he put out the decoys, two hens and a jake. We got a little more organized and I was getting comfortable. It was probably 5:45 and I was pretty tired. It wasn’t long before I dozed off. I probably slept for 45 minutes. When I woke up there was a hen working its way toward the blind. The next thing I knew two more birds were flying at us. I thought they were turkeys because it was just starting to lighten up and it was cloudy. I jumped a little bit and the next thing I heard was “Honk, honk!” The birds were geese! They landed right in the middle of the decoys! We sat there, watching the hen and geese, for probably five minutes. Next, my dad saw a tom step out of the woods, although Dad didn’t tell me right away because he wanted to make sure it was going to come our way.
When Dad finally told me, he said, “There’s a gobbler out there. You need to get your gun up and get ready in case he comes in.” Right after he told me to get ready, five deer came running across the field. They knew something was wrong and began stomping their feet and snorting at us. They ran across the field, then turned around and ran across again. I was sure they were going to mess things up. One more time they ran across in front of us. They finally left the field and the whole time the gobbler was standing statue just out of range.
Finally, the gobbler broke and wasn’t long coming in once he spotted the jake decoy. The final 20 yards were gone in a flash and just before he jumped to thump the decoy, Bang! He didn’t even flop! I had killed my first turkey. My dad and I hugged and celebrated! We were so excited!
A couple of days later, I learned that I had actually got two birds with one shot! The longbeard was 21 ½ lbs., with 1 ¼ -inch spurs and a 10 ½-inch beard. The other bird weighed 0.5 lbs., with no spurs and a 4 ½-inch plastic beard. It was my dad’s inflatable jake decoy!
It was a great day getting to spend time with my dad in the outdoors and tagging my first turkey!♦

Junior prose, Second place

My hunting trip

By Cody Kennedy
Prairie du Rocher, Ill.
The mercury dropped so fast, it bent the nail the thermometer was hanging on. It was cold!
“Let’s go, we’re burning daylight!” my dad hollered.
It was a brutal cold evening in December 2006. It was the second half of the Illinois firearms deer season. Our luck was running low and our time running out.
My dad and I were heading for our deer stand. It was probably the coldest day of the year, in the worst ice storm that southern Illinois had had in years. It was as if we were walking on broken glass; ice was everywhere and there was no quiet way to get there.
We climbed into our deer stand that my dad, grandpa and I had built to overlook a pasture in my grandpa’s woods. We sat for what seemed like forever and saw nothing. But thanks to the 8-by-8 platform on our stand we were able to set up our blind with a Buddy heater in it. We were 16 feet up. We were trying to stay warm although the mercury hung in the low teens. The surrounding view was awesome, it was like Christmas lights everywhere as the sun cast its rays through all the ice. Every limb, twig, and strand of barbwire was coated with ice.
Soon, the sun began to set and the shooting time was running out. My dad said, “Get your stuff, let’s take a walk back to the house.” I got my stuff and we headed for the house. We took the long way along the fencerow with the wind in our favor. We approached a patch of brush and cover where deer always like to bed. There was a fallen tree lying in our path, when all of a sudden dad said, “Cody, you hear that?” and out of the brush came three does.
One stopped in front of my dad at about 30 yards. He raised his .50-caliber muzzleloader, picked her out in the scope and the shot thundered!
The woods opened up, she jumps the fence and down she goes in the field. The other two go busting across the path and this monster buck comes hauling across the pasture like he was headed for the next county.
We crossed the fence to make sure we got the does and went back to my grandpa and grandma’s house to get their tractor. I was so cold I had to stay in the house to warm up. Meanwhile, dad and grandpa went to the woods to get the does in the field.
When I saw them coming out of the woods into the yard, I went back out with a knife and gut hook so we could field-dress the doe.
Dad let me help but I was sure glad to get my gloves back on. We weighed her on our deer scale; she weighed in at 105 pounds – not bad!
We loaded her in the back of our trusty ol’ Chevy and headed to Prairie du Rocher to check it in for the deer contest.
This way one of my “out of the world” hunting experiences with my dad, but trust me…there are many more to come.♦

Junior prose, Third place

Journey to Carmen Lake, Alaska

By Tiancheng Sun
Potomac, Md.
Carmen Lake is located in the very center of Alaska. You begin your journey jet boating down a small river lined with houses and roads. As you venture deeper, you leave civilization farther and farther behind. Then you are surrounded by a forest. A crisp fresh smell immerses your senses, and you take a deep breath. You listen to the calming sounds of nature, a cool breeze blowing through the trees, the sound of birds chirping, and the lullaby of the clear turquoise water, as it slithers across the smooth rock bed, as if trying to sing you to sleep. As you go on, the forest gets deeper and the river narrows. Unexpectedly, the water starts to flow faster and faster, bringing you out of your peaceful state, and soon you hit the cataracts. The driver of the boat would be careful to avoid the sharp sticks and floating logs sticking menacingly out of the water. You speed through the surging waters and mist sprays into your eyes, making you blink as you fight to see ahead. Then, just as you think it is all over, you catch sight of a black shape looming right ahead. As you get nearer, you see that it is a huge boulder jutting out of the water and you are heading straight for it! But the driver has experience, and sees it too. He swerves just in time, as the boat leans dangerously to one side, creaking and groaning. You hear the roar of the powerful engine, as the boat fights for control over the raging waters.
But then, it ends just as suddenly as it began. The mist clears, and you see right ahead that the rapids begin to slow down, feeding into something massive, hidden by some low hanging branches directly in front of you. The branches form a sort of bridge, and you watch as two playful squirrels chase each other across it. The driver will then tell you to duck under the formation, so that the branches will not hit your head. But nothing will prepare you for the wondrous beauties that lie beyond those branches. As you pass underneath them, you enter another world. From then on, you realized that all the obstacles that you had to conquer getting to this mystical place were worth it. Suddenly, the forest on both sides of you clear out, and there lying before you is a vast, glimmering body of water, with a glacier of pure white ice on your right side. You witness the breathtaking sight of being surrounded by huge mountains of lush green and brown, towering up high beyond the clouds, as if reaching for something unseen, above the sky. The air is crisp, and the sky is mostly clear. There are a few pure white clouds dotted here and there, as if guarding the gateway to Heaven. You obtain a feeling of calmness, as if you could just lie there and gaze at the gorgeous, stunning view forever. At last, you have arrived at Carmen Lake.♦

Junior Poetry, First Place

Wild Turkey Surprise

By Caroline Priore
Kenyon, Minn.
Upon a morning long ago,
A man set out a-hunting,
With gun in hand
To hunting stand
He went his way a-grunting.
He set his blow-up decoy out,
(A model of a turkey),
And settled down
To hear the sound
Of other fowl a-lurking.
The hunter hunkered
Down to wait
And, feeling rather dozy,
He counted sheep
And fell asleep,
Within the stand so cozy.
Then all at once he heard a noise
That roused him from his sleeping;
He took quick aim,
For toward him came
A coyote softly creeping.
It scuttled in without a sound,
Approached the rubber hen,
It tore the chick
Straight off the stick
And bolted for its den.
But as the coyote ran away,
It took a hungry nibble —
The decoy popped
And soon was dropped,
The coyote ceased to quibble.
So, on that day of fate and fame,
The coyote got no dinner,
The hunter missed,
The decoy hissed,
And no one was the winner.
This poem is based on a true story
that occurred in the Sogn Valley.

Junior poetry, Second place

Times are Changing

By Stephanie McMillan
Independence, Iowa
I am a conservation officer; things are grim.
I work in the watershed almost everyday.
Watersheds are getting polluted by fields,
Factories and cars.
Exhaust comes back as acid rain.
I work in the watershed almost everyday.
Erosion washes the soil downstream.
I work in the watershed almost everyday.
Invasive canary grass spreads and grows
I’m deeply concerned about our
Emerald Ash trees.
I work in the watershed almost everyday.
Some things help, like the Clean Air Act.
Getting people involved, that’s the key.
I am a conservation officer.
Things are changing.
I am a child; I like to swim.
I go to the watershed often to play.
On clear summer nights, I gaze at the stars.
My friend and I make a flower chain.
I go to the watershed often to play.
I lie by the bank and lazily dream.
I go to the watershed often to play.
Mud trickles between my toes.
I watch the robin fly with ease.
I go to the watershed often to play.
Something’s changing, I know for a fact.
The water’s not as clear as it used to be.
I don’t want to lose the habitat I see.
I am a child.
Things are changing.♦

Junior poetry, Third place

Hardly Seeing, but Always KNOWING

By Kelly Parker
Jefferson, N.Y.
The crumbled leaves and twigs
lying beneath me.
Always scared of losing the sounds
coming from behind my back.
The noises of rustling are barely heard,
but I can feel two eyes burning
through my skin.
Instantly I knew it.
I was hardly seeing, but always
knowing.
The greatness of the silence sent an
awful agonizing chill down my
aching spine.
With my pupil stretching as far as it
can go, saw his blue and red head
bobbing suspiciously.
I knew he was always seeing, but
never knowing.
He stepped gingerly onto the old
brown and yellow fall grass from
two seasons ago.
The rough blades who never thought
about pricking his scaly feet were
crushed unwillingly beneath.
I knew that he was thinking about
strutting, but eyeing me and my
three other hunters and witnesses, he
didn’t dare.
But he never lived to see another day
because he was always seeing, but
never knowing.
And me, with the excitement
exploding inside me, I was hardly
seeing, but always knowing.♦
About the contest …
Part of OWAA’s mission is to foster the next generation of outdoors communicators, and the 2010 Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards Committee recently awarded prizes totaling $1,700, sponsored by Safari Club International and Safari Club International Foundation. The annual contest has categories for poetry and prose in two divisions: junior (grades 6-8) and senior (grades 9-12). Entries must be outdoors-oriented and previousl published in a newsletter, newspaper, magazine, literary collection or other publication. First-place winners received $200; second-place winners received $125; and third-place winners received $100. A list of this year’s winners is published at www.owaa.org/contests. Congratulations to the contest winners, and thank you to contest sponsors! OWAA is now accepting entries for the 2011 contest. Deadline is March 15, 2011. Visit the above website for details.

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