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Poster contest’s 29th year highlights the importance of pollinators

SOCIAL CIRCLE — Teachers and students across the state are invited to explore Georgia’s wildlife and students’ artistic interests through the 29th annual Give Wildlife a Chance poster contest.

The goal of this competition for grades K-5 is to generate a greater knowledge and appreciation of Georgia’s diverse wildlife and their habitats. The popular 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 Wildlife Conservation Section. The theme for the 2018-19 school year is “Pollinator Power.” The topic highlights the important roles pollinators like bees, ants, moths and hummingbirds play in producing fruits, seeds and nuts for wildlife as well as crops for people. Pollinator populations are declining mainly due to habitat loss and pesticide use. Much of the native vegetation that supports pollinators has been replaced by roads, buildings, parking lots and neighborhoods with manicured lawns. Weed killers and insecticides can undercut wasps, butterflies, beetles and other beneficial insects.

By reducing pesticide use and creating pollinator habitat, even in small patches, all Georgians — including our youngest artists — can help reverse this trend.

After creating artwork based on this year’s theme and within 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 will be chosen 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 12, 2019.

The top 12 state-level winners’ artwork will be showcased on DNR Wildlife Resources Division social media sites and displayed at the State Botanical Garden in Athens May 9-14. 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 Botgarden.uga.edu. For contest rules, awards, entry forms and other information, visit Georgiawildlife.com/PosterContest.