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Local artists win state design contest

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 12:09 p.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – You never know what will turn out.

Jessica Johnson went out one morning in the winter of 2010 and snapped a picture of tree branches covered in snow. When her father, Dean Johnson, informed her of a photo contest for the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, she entered that picture, along with one of a path leading to a tree line and two snow-covered hay bales.

“It was hard to choose, but I like the ones I chose,” Jessica, a 2013 Sycamore High School graduate, said. “I chose the photos that really fit into what they were looking for.”

The pictures earned her first place in the kids division in the Close Up Conservation and Ag/Conservation Across America categories, respectively. She was one of four local people to win in the statewide contest; Paul Searl of Esmond won the photo contest in the adult division, and Jessica Mauger and Nathan Dwyer, both of Genoa, won in their age categories in the association’s poster contest.

Jessica Johnson’s father is a resource conservationist at the DeKalb County Soil and Water Conservation District. He said the local district has had state winners in the past and one honorable mention at the national level, but never a national winner.

“What is nice about this contest is that it provides an opportunity for artists and photographers young and old to showcase their talent, but what is important to me is that it allows the contestants to express artistically their relationship with the natural resources in their lives,” Dean Johnson said.

Winners of the national contest, sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts, will be announced in February.

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