Gabe and Mrs. McKennon, show his winning poster.

The Airway Heights Parks & Recreation Department 2011 Arbor Day Celebration continued the tradition of engaging local elementary school students to participate in an Arbor Day Poster Contest. The theme for our local poster contest for 2011 was “Trees are Terrific & Benefit the Environment and Wildlife!”

Teachers were encouraged to introduce curriculum that provided students background on the benefits trees bring to the environment in which we live, including moderating climate, improving air quality, conserving water, and sheltering wildlife. Teachers also conveyed the message that trees assist in climate control by moderating the effects of sun, wind, and rain.

The Airway Heights poster contest is open to all first through fifth grade students. A poster champion is selected from each classroom and one grand champion is chosen from those winners. The individual class winners are awarded framed certificates. The grand champion receives an invitation to a city council meeting where the mayor awards them a plaque recognizing their accomplishment. The winning poster is framed and displayed in the foyer at City Hall.

Teachers appreciate the connection the Arbor Day poster contest creates with their classrooms. Sara McKennon a fifth grade teacher extended her appreciation to us writing the following:

“I want to thank you and your hard-working staff for all the effort you put into the Arbor Day Celebration. During the month of April, the information and activities you provide to the Falcon’s Club is extremely valuable and it carries over into the classroom. I will never forget Gabe’s enthusiasm last year when you had the poster contest going on in our school. Gabe put so much effort into the poster and felt such pride when he was finished. It was wonderful to see all of his hard work pay off when he was the winner of the contest. He didn’t wipe the smile off his face for days to come. Also, the talk among the students about the importance of trees in our community was exceptional. You really reach some of our most fragile youth with all that you do, and I hope that these types of   projects continue.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help support your upcoming Arbor Day Projects or other community events.”

Receiving comments like this from the teachers at our school is a great incentive to continue our annual poster contest. It confirms that we are reaching the students and teaching them the vital importance of our urban forest. Teaching children that planting trees and shrubs, returns the community to a more natural, less artificial environment; teaching them that trees attract wildlife to an area by providing food and shelter is an important step in protecting our urban forest for future generations.

Thanks to J.C. Kennedy CPRP, Director of Parks, Recreation & Community Services, City of Airway Heights