PIERRE, S.D. – Brodie Boomsma of Doland, Taryn Bartel of Wessington Springs, and Olivia Konechne of Plankinton are the top three finishers in the 2022 South Dakota Arbor Day Creative Writing Contest. The winners were selected from the 690 entries submitted by fifth and sixth grade students across the state.
In addition to learning more about trees, contest winners receive awards and cash prizes.
First place winner Brodie Boomsma receives a plaque and $125 in cash. His school, Doland School, will receive $150 for the purchase of supplies or equipment. Second place winner Taryn Bartel will receive a plaque and $100 cash while Olivia Konechne will receive a plaque and $75 for earning third place.
All three winners will read their creative writings and receive their prizes during special Arbor Day celebrations in their hometown areas. All students who entered the contest will receive a packet of tree seeds courtesy of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources-Division of Resource Conservation and Forestry Division (RCF).
Sponsored by South Dakota’s conservation districts and RCF, the contest provides fifth and six grade students the opportunity to write about the importance of Arbor Day and tree planting in South Dakota.
The Creative Writing Contest has been held in South Dakota for 45 years.
South Dakota celebrates Arbor Day on the last Friday in April. Nebraska newspaper publisher J. Sterling Morton proposed the very first Arbor Day in 1872. On that first Arbor Day, over one million trees were planted in Nebraska.
Note: The winning writings appear below.
First Place – Brodie Boomsma of Spink Conservation District,
“Not Just a Tree”
I stepped out of the car, smelled fresh pine, and saw trees everywhere. I’m in the Black Hills! The trees were mostly pine; curvy, straight, short, tall. Some so close together and tangled, others growing out of cracks in the rocks. It was like the trees had a mind of their own. I noticed areas where trees have burned, with new ones growing, areas where dead trees are scattered. I wondered why? I saw a sign talking about taking care of trees in the forest and how important it is to stay on marked paths, don’t litter or burn. It talked about how there are natural things like fires from lightning strikes or heat and disease or animals that are important parts of the ecosystem, but manageable. This makes me think about trees back home. To appreciate trees! When home from vacation, I planted a couple pear trees and a maple tree. I paid attention to how close the trees were planted in our yard, the shape, size and even location. I made it my chore to water and protect them. I realized that the young trees I just planted would take many years to take the place of our old trees. It makes a difference when one or two trees are cut down or die when there isn’t an abundance of trees. When I think of comparing the trees in different areas, I realize that they all have a story; every tree has a purpose.
Second Place – Taryn Bartel of Jerauld Conservation District
In my backyard and all around it there are lots of trees, including an apple tree. I think those trees are important because they give us oxygen, they provide shelter for so many animals, and the apple tree gives us apples we can eat and bake with. 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 to them, too.
Trees can also be a lot of fun. One fun thing I like to do is climb the trees, another thing you could do is build a fort up in a tree. If you’re like me and enjoy baking, you might want to pick fruit from a tree to bake with. I also just eat fruit off the trees! In fall, you could rake up a pile of leaves and jump in it!
That all shows how important and fun trees are to us and to many animals! That’s why it’s important to celebrate trees on Arbor Day. But, we should always be thankful for trees and all of the other plants! They are all important for many reasons and it’s easy to not realize how much we really need them. I am so thankful for trees and I hope these reasons convince you to appreciate trees, too. So, I want to show you how important trees really are to us all!
Third Place – Olivia Konechne of Aurora Conservation District
“The Great Willow Tree”
The willow tree was a gift from my grandpa, from the year I was born. He planted the tree while I just sat and watched It’s a family tradition to plant a tree with grandpa. I’m the only one with a willow tree. I don’t know how they picked a willow tree for me. Twelve years later, it’s beautiful, elegant, and full of life.
During the summer, it’s a beautiful, solid, dark barked tree. Its branches are long, absolutely beautiful, and just perfect. The leaves are bright and vivid green with a touch of sunflower yellow. Its full and luscious leaves are absolutely breathtaking.
During the fall, it’s still dark, barked, beautiful and solid. The branches are losing leaves one-by-one. The leaves are autumn orange, a dark hazelnut latte color, and a caramel colored brown.
During the winter, the leaves have fallen off. As you walk on the snow, if you’re lucky, you might be able to hear the leaves crunching underneath.
During the spring, the leaves are being reincarnated. The tree becomes bright, vivid, and bonny looking. The branches are dark, like charcoal brown
I feel free when I’m around the tree. I make sure to treat it really well because that was the last thing my grandpa gave me before he died. I miss him. He’s a very good and special man to me.
— South Dakota DANR