Conservation Poster and Photo Contests


NACD Close Up Conservation Photo Contest Winner 2013

National Conservation Poster and Photo Contest

The National Association of Conservation Districsts (NACD) and the NACD Auxiliary annually partner to host the National Poster Contest and the Photo Contest.

Contests provide an excellent opportunity for students to enjoy healthy competition while learning about conservation.

2015 Poster Contest

2015 NACD Conservation Poster Contest

The annual National Conservation Poster Contest provides K-12 grade students an opportunity to convey their thoughts about soil, water and related natural resource issues through art.

The contest is open to public, private or home school students. Each year, the poster contest starts at the district level. Individuals and teachers with questions regarding district contests should contact their local district. 

<– * Here’s the link for the Wisconsin  NACD County Offices. *

The top posters in each district for each age category will go on to the state competition, and could even go on to the national competition and win cash prizes!

The posters can use any 2-dimensional media and must be between 8.5″ x 11″ and 22″ x 28″ in size.  “Local Heroes – Your Hardworking Pollinators” must be somewhere on your poster.  Have fun creating!

Vernon County residents, please contact  Sarah McDowell at  by or before December 1, 2014 if you have any interest in this fun conservation opportunity.  The posters will be due to the Vernon County Land & Water Conservation Department office on Friday, January 23rd  and the state competition is the first week of March.

2015 Poster Contest Theme: Local Heroes – Your Hardworking Pollinators
Poster Categories by grade:          K-1         2-3         4-6         7-9         10-12
The contest is open to public, private or home school students.
Local districts or states may have different categories or rules for their contest.
Rules and Resources for 2015 Conservation Poster Contest
List of rules. |PDF|
List of resources. |PDF|
What Makes a Good Poster? | PDF |
National Visual Arts Standards
Logo in jpeg or tif/gif – Local Heroes Your Hardworking Pollinators

2014 Conservation Photo Contest Winner Youth (Lake County SWCD)

2013 Conservation Photo Contest Winner Youth, Indiana


Photo Contest




A picture can be worth even more than a thousand words. Good photographs can lend a helping hand to numerous projects: they strengthen publicity for a fund-raiser, make a newsletter more appealing and reveal the beauty of wetlands to children. The Photo Contest recognizes effective use of photography.

This contest is open to any amateur photographer of any age. Enter up to 5 total photos per person in the following four categories: Conservation Practices, Close Up Conservation, Conservation in Action, and Ag/Conservation Across America.  All photos must be taken within your district.

The top three in each age category will receive a prize and will move onto the National Competition.

Vernon County Residents: Vernon County Land & Water Conservation is offering the Conservation Photo Contest this year.  This is a great way to get your students outside so they can catch a snapshot of the beauty of nature and farming that is all around us!  All photos are due by November 1, 2014. All photos must be taken in Vernon County, WI so we can showcase conservation in our area of the state. Contact Sarah McDowell <> for the forms and details for Vernon County.

Conservation Photo Winner 2015 1st Place, Youth, Illinois

2013 Conservation Photo Winner, Youth, Illinois

LIVE Virtual Field Trip to Alcoa Aluminum Manufacturing Plant

Celebrate National Manufacturing Day with a fascinating interactive LIVE Virtual Field Trip to Alcoa Davenport, a high-tech aluminum manufacturing plant on the banks of the Mississippi River. See where the wings for Air Force One are built as well as the new technology being utilized to make cars lighter and more fuel-efficient.

Celebrate National Manufacturing Day with a fascinating interactive LIVE Virtual Field Trip to Alcoa Davenport, a high-tech aluminum manufacturing plant on the banks of the Mississippi River. See where the wings for Air Force One are built as well as the new technology being utilized to make cars lighter and more fuel-efficient.  
Alcoa Foundation and Discovery Education invite you to join the LIVE Virtual Field Trip on October 3rd at 1PM EST / 10AM PST when students will be given an exclusive tour of the plant and introduced to Alcoa employees who will showcase cutting-edge technology and share the STEM-related passions that led them to pursue advanced manufacturing careers. Alcoa Davenport Works Director of Manufacturing, Rob Woodall,will answer student’s questions live.
Submit your questions here to be answered during the LIVE event.
Prepare for the Virtual Field Trip and Career Fair with the Manufacture Your Future resources

Remembering Ben Logan…

“Once you have lived on the land, been a partner
with its moods, secrets, and seasons, you cannot leave.
The living land remembers,
touching you in unguarded moments, saying,
‘I am here. You are part of me.'”
~Ben Logan (1920-2014)
The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and Its People, 1975

Author Ben Logan relaxes in his old family farmstead near Steuben in Crawford County in 2006 Photo Credit-Gary Porter, Journal-Sentinel

GAYS MILLS – Ben Logan, the author of the memoir “The Land Remembers,” died very peacefully on Sept. 19, 2014, in Viroqua. He also wrote “Christmas Remembered,” “The Empty Meadow,” and other works.  “Ben was born in Seneca in 1920. He grew up on a ridge top farm his mother called “Seldom Seen.” He spent most of his life away from Wisconsin, but carried Seldom Seen and the people who were part of it with him wherever he was. In his writing, Ben brought the stories and feel of a place he loved to many thousands of readers. It was his hope that readers could carry this feeling beyond one small corner of Wisconsin, to build a broader appreciation and care for the land and its people.”

“Ben’s writing about the land had a touch of romance – but it was never sentimental. He had the hard, honest insight of someone who grew up knowing how a falling tree limb could kill a person, how the wind bit on a long winter day of working outside. There is a small valley – Ben called it Lost Valley – running southeast from the farm house at Seldom Seen. Ben often told the story of a time when he was wandering there as a boy, hearing the distant cry of a wolf, finally seeing it loping across the valley, paying him no attention – raw, solitary, majestic nature. And so the boy, who saw the last wolf through the blowing snow down in Lost Valley, is going home for the last time. ”   Read more

“Ben Logan leaves a legacy of both words and actions.  That legacy will live on in the land and farm he worked to protect. And it will live on in the stories he told of the family farm and stories told by the generations to come who will farm the land.  In his obituary, Logan’s family writes that his connection to the land and his community were two things that helped him survive his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. When he was in college, Logan studied under the preeminent conservationist of the time, Aldo Leopold, who Logan said bristled against his emotional attachment to the land.”  Read more.

The family suggest memorials be made to Valley Stewardship Network .
Services will be held Oct. 26, 2014 at the Gays Mills Community Center. Visitation will be held from 2 to 3 p.m., when a celebration of life begins.

Seldom Seen Farm, the beloved ridgetop landscape in Wisconsin’s southwestern corner that was the setting of the “The Land Remembers,” will be forever protected as part of an agreement signed with the Mississippi Valley Conservancy.

‘The Land Remembers’ still resonates with readers

Caroline Beckett, publisher with Itchy Cat Press of Blue Mounds, said her organization became the eighth publisher of the book in 2006. “‘The Land Remembers’ continues to interest and affect readers from all over,” she said. “We get many orders from book clubs, bookstores and individuals curious about life on Seldom Seen hilltop farm in the Kickapoo River valley of southwestern Wisconsin. Logan’s connection to the land and nature’s rhythms are a welcome relief to today’s wired and jangling world.”  Read more.


Living Books for Education

“The Land Remembers” is what educator Charlotte Mason would call a “living book”.

A living book is a “whole” book,  one rich in thoughts and nutrition – with ideas that reach out to you.   A living book feeds the spirit, without having to be highly spiced or  dumbed-down for the masses.

A few years ago, we used “The Land Remembers” in our homeschool studies in a unit on local Wisconsin history.  I have since heard that local high schools used it in their Literature classes.

Maybe it’s time for us to pull it back out and give it another reading.

Some friends of ours hiked down to Lost Valley four years ago when it was put in the Mississippi Conservancy, and met Ben Logan there, even took photos of him with their kids…
For those of you near Seldom Seen Farm, relish your part of the land and the memories.

And please be gracious in directing strangers looking for it’s location.

It may be just a homeschool family on a field trip finding their way to Lost Valley to be immersed in the land.

The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and it's People: Ben Logan

The Land Remembers by Ben Logan Book Photo: Stock Image

“The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and its People” by Ben Logan is the heartwarming autobiographical story of Logan’s early life in the 1930s on Seldom Seen Farm, located on a hard-to-reach ridge near Gays Mills in Crawford County. The book, originally published in 1975, has an eighth edition released in 2006 with an afterword from Logan.

The New York Times Book Review:
“What drew me so irresistibly through The Land Remembers?… You feel nostalgia when the details of the world are so precisely concrete and right that by the time the author tells you his own reactions to that world you feel you already know it just about as well as he does. . . . It’s not nostalgia for my own past that The Land Remembers made me feel; it’s nostalgia for a world he makes me wish I’d known.”

Hoard’s Dairyman
Book Review: “This book creates an urge to go back to the time that author Ben Logan references. Logan grew up in the southwest Wisconsin hill country. After a strong career writing in New York City, he returned to his home and now resides in Viroqua at the age of 90. The Land Remembers explains what life was like in the “driftless area,” where the glaciers were unable to flatten the land to resemble neighboring Iowa and Illinois.”

Book reviews of The Land Remembers were originally posted in 2011.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve Fall and Winter Workshops for Homeschoolers

Here’s an outstanding opportunity for area homeschoolers.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve’s Fall and Winter Workshops!

These interactive hands-on programs are taught by experienced instructor/naturalists.

Workshop sessions are geared foe K – 3rd graders and 4th grade and up.

Two programs for each age level (K-3 and 4th and up) will run twice each afternoon.  Each child will participate imageget (2)in both afternoon sessions offered for their age level.  You may register your children for any or all Fridays.

You choose the workshops by date – based on what works for your schedule or the interest of your child. Each date can accommodate approximately 35 K-3rd grade children and 35 4th grade and up.  Programs will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis.

Most programs will have an inside and outside component so please make sure that children dress for being outside in winter weather.

Homeschool Fridays are a great way to experience hands-on science, nature and other cultural programs, receive help on projects and research, and network with other homeschooling families!

You may register your children for any or all Fridays. 12:15 pm – 3:45 pm.
Fee: $8/Child/Afternoon.

Please be sure to read this Parent Letter before your programs begin.

New this Year!  Natural Play Areas:  Parents and children under 5 years of age can also join KVR staff each Friday for guided exploration of natural play areas  which provide interest-led, inquiry-based play opportunities.  Children use their imaginations, creativity, hand-eye coordination, balance, and physical strength to build tiny elfin towns, bake in the mud kitchen, play nature music, climb over logs, swing on ropes and balance on stumps.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE:  September 26 (for October programs) and January 23 (for February programs).

Class descriptions and fee details are HERE.

Please click here to print a registration form.  Mail the completed form along with payment to Kickapoo Valley Reserve.

Scholarships available; contact the Reserve.

Homeschooling: A Growing Option For Many in Wisconsin – One Family’s Story

1.5 million students across the country are homeschooled



“After completing second grade at a traditional school, Bronwyn asked her parents if she could be homeschooled because she didn’t feel challenged in class and was bullied outside of class.”

Homeschooling isn’t on the fringe of education choices any longer. In fact, it seems to be growing in popularity across the country. The Department of Education estimates the number of homeschooled students has grown at about 7% a year for the past 10 years.

A few weeks ago, SW Wisconsin Community of Homeschools was contacted by Lisa Klein of WKBT-TV Channel 8 in La Crosse, to help her find a family to interview for a news story about homeschooling.  We surveyed local homeschool families and gave Lisa our nominees.  Here’s the story that ran on the La Crosse News last night…

Assignment: Education – Home Schooling
Author: Lisa Klein,


Stephanie Hicks had thought she wouldn’t have the patience to homeschool their children.  “We thought. okay we’ll give it a whirl and if we don’t like it we’ll stop. And here we are going into five years.”

The Hicks children are part of nearly 20,000 homeschool students in Wisconsin.

(UPDATED 09/22/14: The video implies that homeschooling is increasing, however the statistics show the percentage of home-based students has been dropping since a peak in 2002; with 2013/2014 figures at 19,104, or 1.89% of the total school population.)

After five years, homeschooling is still working out well for the Hicks family.

The homeschool option.

How’s it going for your family?


“Go Slow”: How Does Net Neutrality Affect Your Homeschool?

Would it make a difference to you if your homeschool day was interrupted by slow internet?

We’ve all been frustrated by trying to load something and instead getting the spinning wheel of death. But what if the reason for the delay wasn’t just a crummy Wi-Fi or DSL and was instead the issue of net neutrality!

Ever wonder what would happen if everyday websites, like this blog for instance, were forced by deep pocketed mega communication companies to run in the “slow lane” of the internet?

Now, I’m not saying this blog makes any great difference to your daily life, but it makes me positively cranky when I can’t get a simple recipe or check the weather forecast quickly.

“Net neutrality— the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks equally—got major attention this Spring when the FCC released proposed regulatory guidelines that left Internet users and companies alike deeply concerned. The proposal included new language giving ISPs leeway to create a “fast lane” for certain websites (i.e. websites with deep pockets that were willing to shell out more money for faster access to users).

But you can’t have a fast lane without also having a slower lane. And that means everyday websites—including journalistic websites and start-up companies that could compete with established web services—could be slow to load, even as our expectations for loading speed leap ahead in the coming years.” Source

What about all the online curriculum that you use for daily homeschool purposes?

Many of us use free online content for regular homeschooling, like Khan Academy, Homeschool Freebie of the Day for instance.


And I can’t help wonder how this idea could change the educational courses and curricula we purchase from homeschool companies that are delivered by the internet…

At best I think, it’s going to make a difference in the price we will all have to pay down the road.

Have you checked into any of this? What are your thoughts?

Back to School – Union Grove Wisc. Teachers Welcome Students with Music Video

Don’t you wish your high school teachers were this cool?

Mr. Jordan Hein and Mr. Mitchell Brachmann have teamed up again this year to create a fun welcome back for students at Union Grove High School in Wisconsin.

Mr. Hein teaches health and physical education and coaches football and wrestling. Mr. Brachmann teaches science.

They started in 2012 with a their first music video called “In My Class” and followed it up in 2013 with “That’s What Makes School Beautiful.”

This year’s video, based on the old 1984 Kenny Loggins hit, “Footloose” is sure to get the kids pumped up to be in class.

Oh, you’ve gotta love school!

Brachmann and Hein also have set up a crowd funding site for classroom projects and learning opportunities. If you like the video, consider supporting them here:


HTML 101 for Kids: Basics of Web Programming Free 14 Lesson Course starts September 08

 “Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer…because it teaches you how to think.”  ~ Steve Jobs, Founder, Apple

Imagine the power of taking a blank computer page and being able to create whatever you want out of it.

Scary, Intimidating, or Awesome?

In this online class, Frazier O’Leary, a former Northern Virginia High School teacher, computer consultant, and father to two children in Alexandria, VA  will introduce your children to the basics of the HTML, using HTML “tags” to create and design Basic Web Pages.

The course is open to any students 9 years old and up.

Parents can sign up to take the classes too! (Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?)

All you need to do is to pre-register here.

The class will go live on Monday, September 08, 2014.  A new lesson will be available each day after that for the next 3 weeks; students can catch up and review missed lessons on their own schedule.

Interested?  Here’s the link to pre-register.

* Thanks Colleen M. of the Richland County Home Educators for posting the information about this course. My son (and I) had started the classes last spring but didn’t finish. Who knows what tricks I’ll be able to use on this blog!

Here Goes! New Regional Homeschool Community Website

You are invited to come along…
We’re creating a new regional community website for homeschoolers hosted on 
This will be a private members only website with a wide REGIONAL reach to keep homeschool families informed.

The site‘s abilities include: Forums, Calendar, Classifieds, sign ups for activities/events, archive capabilities, and much more.

Homeschool families can become members individually. Also, separate sections will be setup to place information within individual homeschool groups.

We’ll have multiple web administrators to share the load and maximize the capabilities. 

The cost for membership is $7 per family for the year which is the fee to Only those families that have paid for annual membership will have site access.  This year’s fees are due in October.

Membership Terms of Agreement: To allow a free exchange of information, families joining SW Wisconsin Community of Homeschools regional homeschool-life website agree to keep all personal details shared within the website private. No SPAMMING of other members, or using contact information for personal or business purposes. 

Registration is easy, go to the group web site address: and click on the link to select “Click here to signup.”  The web administrators will personally verify and approve each and every registration.

Lending a hand

Organizations contact us looking for ways to connect with area homeschoolers. Here’s 2 from the email bag.

Looking for Parent’s Perspectives on Teaching about the “Birds and Bees”

Lori Reichel, Ph.D at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse is conducting a research study in the southwest area of Wisconsin where she is interviewing parents of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade children regarding the teaching about the “birds and the bees.”

“The reason from my research is because when looking for past data collection done with parents, a gap is found with parents of elementary school aged children. In addition, I did not find any reference to parents who homeschool their children.

The purpose of my study is to collect data from parents to explore their perspectives and gain recommendations, specifically for teaching about human sexuality.My perspective is that there is a need for professionals to hear the voices of homeschooling parents regarding the experiences and needs/wants for sexuality education.”

Research Study on Birds & Bees

The research is being conducted through September.

Dr. Reichel is looking to speak with homeschool parents, an “often overlooked group.”

If you are living in the overall southwest area of Wisconsin, and are a homeschool parent of a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade student, Dr. Reichel would appreciate your help in the study.  Here’s her contact information:

Lori Reichel, Ph. D.
Assistant Professor
Health Education & Health Promotion Department
200 Mitchell Hall
University of Wisconsin- La Crosse
email:  or
Office phone number: 608-785-6786

Volunteers Needed for Richland County Nutrition Program

The Richland County Nutrition Program is hoping to increase the number of volunteers for the Senior Nutrition Program.

The Nutrition Program Coordinator, Tanya Webster, herself a past homeschool mom, said she “thought maybe your group would be another way to reach out to our homebound elderly. They really love seeing different people.”

They are looking for community members who may have an hour a day, week, or month to deliver meals to our elderly population who are home bound. There are meal sites in the Germantown, Richland Center, Rockbridge, and Viola.

RC Nutrition Program Volunteer

Here’s the flyer pdf to download if you wish.

If you are able to lend a helping hand, please contact:

Tanya Van Risseghem – Webster
Community Health Educator
Nutrition Program Coordinator
Richland County Health & Human Services
221 W. Seminary Street
Richland Center, WI 53581
Phone: (608) 649-5937
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