More than 900 Wake County students combined colorful markers, elaborate drawings and incredible imagination to create the winning selections in Wake County’s annual conservation poster contest. Judges said this year’s entries showcased remarkable talent, but more importantly, illustrated that young people understand the importance of protecting our community’s natural resources. “It’s amazing how these 9- and 10-year-old children not only captured the beauty of our community, but also brought to light the impact of paving, erosion and water contamination,” said Shinica Thomas, chair, Wake County Board of Commissioners. “Their designs explained how we must slow down stormwater runoff and allow for water to soak into the ground so it can clean and recharge our drinking water sources. Those are complex concepts, but these elementary students nailed it!” This year’s theme, “Water: The Cycle of Life,” was sponsored by the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District and Novozymes North America, Inc. Posters were judged on 50% scientific content and 50% artistic originality by stormwater experts. The top 10 winners hailed from elementary school classrooms all over the county. This year, the top two winners (pictured below) were:
1st Place, Atri Mandal, from Kristen Anderson’s 4th grade class at Poe Magnet Elementary in Raleigh
2nd Place, Medha Balaji, from Suzanne D’Amico’s 5th grade class at Green Hope Elementary in Cary
Besides receiving certificates and cash awards up to $100, Atri Mandal’s and Medha Balaji’s posters will compete for additional prizes at the regional level with 10 other counties and possibly go on to win at the state level, like last year’s Wake County champion. “Atri Mandal’s stunning color-pencil drawing shows Mother Nature’s heart breaking when hard surfaces prevent rain from soaking into the ground, and Mother Nature’s heart is whole when the problem is solved,” said Sheila Jones, Wake District Environmental Education Specialist. “Medha’s poster also artfully shows the big difference that best management practices can make in keeping water clean at home, on a farm and construction site.” The other top winners included:
3rd Place (pictured below), Eva Zboyovski, from Cayla Green’s 5th grade class at A.B. Combs Magnet School in Raleigh
Soleia Guilford from Kara Barwick’s 5th grade class at A.B. Combs Magnet School in Raleigh
Lucas Clark from Tori Harrell’s 5th grade class at Abbotts Creek Elementary in Raleigh
Hrileena Paul from Michael Prewett’s 5th grade class at Alston Ridge Elementary in Cary
Dina Kleyner from Deb Hampton’s 5th grade class at Green Hope Elementary in Cary
Lucia Xoconostle from Jaila Patrick’s 5th grade class at Green Hope Elementary in Cary
Bianca Turcios from Kristen Anderson’s 5th grade class at Poe Magnet Elementary in Raleigh
Samiksha Komali from Robyn Soriano-Lillis’ 4th grade class at White Oak Elementary in Apex
Next year’s “The Living Soil” poster contest will be announced in fall 2023. For more information visit our website, or to sponsor the Conservation Poster Contest, email or call Sheila Jones at 919-410-2676.
1st Place – Atri Mandal, 4th grade, Poe Magnet Elementary, Raleigh
Atri’s stunning color-pencil drawing shows Mother Nature’s heart breaking when hard, impervious surfaces prevent rain from soaking into the ground, causing less infiltration and more stormwater runoff instead. Mother Nature’s heart is whole when stormwater best management practices are used such as permeable pavement that provides a firm surface for parked vehicles and pedestrians while allowing stormwater to soak into the soil instead of letting it flow into stormdrains and local waterways where it can cause flooding, soil erosion, and water contamination.
2nd Place – Medha Balaji, 5th grade, Green Hope Elementary, Cary
Medha’s creative artwork presents a town with two scenarios. The first shows the town without best management practices where rain runs off hard surfaces such as roofs, roads and pavement, entering nearby lakes and streams as polluted stormwater runoff. In contrast, the same town with best management practices uses plants to slow down stormwater runoff so it can soak into the soil where it’s filtered clean before it can contaminate drinking water and aquatic habitats.
3rd Place – Eva Zboyovski, 5th grade, A.B. Combs Elementary, Raleigh
With hand drawings and lift-the-flaps, Eva compares the natural and urban water cycles. The natural water cycle allows rain to soak into the soil so there’s less stormwater runoff; while the urban water cycle prevents rain infiltration into the ground so there’s more stormwater runoff that picks up and carries pollutants to waterways.