EnviromentalAwardNEW CITY, NY —  County Executive Ed Day today recognized and heard from the winners of Rockland’s 23rd Annual Eleanor Burlingham Earth Day Essay Contest. The 2014 contest winners – local fifth grade students –  read their works on the theme of exploring nature in Rockland County.

“Thank you to this year’s students for submitting such colorful essays,” said Day.  “Many residents don’t fully realize the natural beauty and fascinating wildlife that exists right in our own backyards.  These students have made some amazing observations.”
The following students were selected as winners:
Abby Blank, Viola Elementary School, Suffern
Christopher Marsico, MacArthur Barr Middle School, Nanuet
Christopher Potenza, MacArthur Barr Middle School, Nanuet
Catherine Hardwick, MacArthur Barr Middle School, Nanuet
Jack Peterson, MacArthur Barr Middle School, Nanuet
Day presented the winning student essayists with a Rockland County “Certificate of Excellence” and a special pin from the County’s Environmental Management Council, sponsor of the annual contest which honors the memory of Eleanor Burlingham, a local activist who dedicated her life to protecting the environment.
In her essay, Abby Blank wrote about a time her family saw a deer.  “Deer are amazing! I have been fortunate to see them in many parks and while driving around the neighborhood with my family.  I hope this creature will be protected and safe.  Deer are animals that are close to my heart.”
Christopher Marsico shared his discoveries of the bald eagle. “I thought it was insane, INSANE with a capital I.  The wingspan was seven feet, AVERAGE!!! (I’m small for my age – 4’4″ – so that is crazy!)”
In his essay, Christopher Potenza wrote about his attempts to get a squirrel – named Itchy Billy –  to eat from his hands. “He ate out of my hand on a daily schedule.  Then Itchy Billy had a baby and I am trying to tame it now.”
Catherine Hardwick wrote about the time a wild bird foun its way into her home. “My dad quickly opened the door and the bird flew out.  Now, my mom unfroze and said, ‘Hopefully it didn’t poop!'”
Jack Peterson described his findings after observing cardinals.  “In the next year’s spring, I saw more cardinals than there were in the previous year.  The reason there were more cardinals was that the baby cardinals grew there feathers and learned how to fly.  They laid their eggs and they hatched, and the cycle started all over again.”
Burlingham died in 1991.  She was a longtime member of both the Rockland County Conservation Association and the Rockland County Environmental Management Council.

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