STONE — Taryn Bartel, of Wessington Springs, and Olivia Konechne, of Plankinton, were among the top three in the 2022 Arbor Day creative writing competition, the results of which were announced recently.
Brodi Boomsma of Doland was also among the best.
The top three placers were selected from 690 nominations submitted by fifth- and sixth-grade students in South Dakota. In addition to learning more about the trees, contest winners receive rewards and cash prizes.
Boomsma, first place, will receive a plaque and $150 cash. His school, Doland Public School, will receive $150 for supplies or equipment, Bartel, who took second place, will receive a plaque and $100 cash while Konechne will receive a plaque and $75 for graduating. third place.
The three winners will read their creative writings and receive their prizes at special Arbor Day celebrations in their hometowns. All students who entered the contest will receive a packet of tree seeds courtesy of the Resource Conservation and Forestry (RCF) Division of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The contest is sponsored by the South Dakota Conservation Districts and the RCF and offers fifth and sixth graders the opportunity to write about the importance of Arbor Day and tree planting in the South Dakota. The contest has been held annually for 45 years.
South Dakota celebrates Arbor Day on the last Friday in April.
The winning entries for the top three finishers appear below.
First place, Brodie Boomsma of the Spink Conservation District
“Not Just a Tree”
I got out of the car, smelled fresh pine and saw trees everywhere. I’m in the Black Hills! The trees were mostly pines; curved, straight, short, tall. Some so close together and tangled, others emerging from cracks in the rocks. It was as if the trees had their own minds. I noticed areas where trees have burned, with new ones growing, areas where dead trees are strewn about. I wondered why? I saw a sign talking about taking care of the trees in the forest and the importance of staying on marked trails, not littering or burning. He was talking about how there are natural things like fires caused by lightning or heat and diseases or animals that are important parts of the ecosystem, but manageable. It reminds me of the trees in my house. To appreciate the trees! Back from vacation, I planted a few pear trees and a maple. I paid attention to the proximity of the trees planted in our yard, their shape, their size and even their location. I made it a chore to water them and protect them. I realized that the young trees I had just planted would take many years to take the place of our old trees. It makes a difference when one or two trees are downed or die when there is not an abundance of trees. When I think of comparing trees in different regions, I realize that they all have a story; every tree has a purpose.
Runner-up, Taryn Bartel of the Jerauld Conservation District
In my garden and all around there are many trees, including an apple tree. I think these trees are important because they give us oxygen, they provide shelter for so many animals, and the apple tree gives us apples that we can eat and cook. The trees surrounding our yard can block our house from some of the wind. Animals like to eat apples from our tree, so it’s important for them too.
Trees can also be a lot of fun. A fun thing I like to do is climb trees, another thing you could do is build a fort in a tree. If you’re like me and like to cook, you might want to pick fruit from a tree to cook with. I also just eat fruit from the trees! In the fall, you might rake up a pile of leaves and jump in!
All this shows how important and fun trees are for us and for many animals! That’s why it’s important to celebrate trees on Arbor Day. But, we should always be grateful for trees and all other plants! They are all important for many reasons and it is easy to not realize how much we really need them. I’m so thankful for trees and I hope these reasons convince you to appreciate trees too. So, I want to show you how really important trees are to all of us!
Third Place, Olivia Konechne of the Aurora Conservation District
“The Great Willow”
The willow was a gift from my grandfather, since the year I was born. He planted the tree while I sat and watched It’s a family tradition to plant a tree with Grandpa. I’m the only one with a willow. I don’t know how they chose a willow tree for me. Twelve years later, it’s beautiful, elegant and full of life.
During the summer, it is a beautiful, solid tree with dark bark. Its branches are long, absolutely beautiful and simply perfect. The leaves are bright, vivid green with a hint of sunflower yellow. Its full, succulent leaves are absolutely breathtaking.
During the fall, it is still dark, barking, beautiful and solid. The branches lose their leaves one by one. The leaves are autumn orange, a dark hazelnut latte color and caramel brown.
During the winter, the leaves fell. While walking on the snow, if you’re lucky, you might be able to hear the leaves crunching below.
In the spring, the leaves reincarnate. The tree becomes bright, lively and beautiful. The branches are dark, like charcoal brown.
I feel free when I’m around the tree. I make sure to treat it well because it was the last thing my grandfather gave me before he died. I miss him. He is a very good and special man for me.