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Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Watershed Tales Student Conservation Writing Contest

Cover of Watershed Tales student writing book
Cover of Watershed Tales student writing book

Watershed Tales Book

Students from Ausable Bayfield Conservation watersheds submitted student writing to a writing contest held for three years between 2010 and 2013.

We would like to thank the young people who took part and thanks to the teachers who supported student writing about protecting water, soil, and living things.

You may preview or buy this book here: Watershed Tales book

Thanks to all the students who wrote such wonderful submissions to show how much they care about their watershed and their wetlands.

Student Writing Winners

Ausable Bayfield Conservation congratulates all the students who submitted to the third and final year of the Watershed Tales Student Environmental Writing Contest.

Adults can learn a lot about protecting soil, water, and living things from these young people. Our future looks to be in good hands!

The 2012-2013 award winners are:

First Prize - Lourdes Delicata - Short Story Age 5 - 10 - Category A
The Wetlands

Second Prize - Kylie Nott - Short Story Age 5-10 - Category A
All About Watersheds

First Prize - Emma Stilwell - Poetry - Age 5 – 10 - Category D
Wetlands Poem

Second Prize - Becky Hallahan - Poetry - Age 5 – 10 - Category D
 First Prize - Isa VanEsveld - Essay - Age 5 – 10 - Category G
What the Wetlands Mean to Me  

Second Prize - Janey Brand - Essay - Age 5 – 10 - Category G
Special Meaning

First Prize - Obi Siebert - Short story - Age 11 -14 - Category B
The Turtle           

Second Prize - Molly Ann Young - Short story - Age 11 -14 - Category B
The Watershed

Candice Abell - Honourable Mention - Short story - Age 11 -14 - Category B
The Watershed

First Prize - Nicholas Cripps - Poetry - Age 11 - 14 - Category E
A Plea for Change

First Prize - Hanna Dunn - Essay - Age 11 - 14 - Category H
Why Watersheds Are Important

Second Prize - Meredith Marier - Essay - Age 11 - 14 - Category H

First Prize - Lourdes Delicata - Short Story Age 5 - 10 - Category A
The Wetlands

There was a teddy bear who loved to go to the wetlands and, whenever he was there, he did a lot of things like sketch the wetlands, go skiing, snowshoeing in the winter, and taking a little walk.
 One day he was going for a little hike and he came upon a sign that said: WETLAND REMOVAL BEGINS TOMORROW. “Wow,” he thought. “What about all the animals? Why would they have to do this?”
He immediately ran back to his house, got his coat on, ran out the door and started to walk to town hall. He stepped right in and asked the Mayor why he was taking down the wetlands. “We need a new parking lot for the movie theatre!” the Mayor said loudly.
“But the movie theatre already has a parking lot!” The bear said.
 They went on and on arguing with each other. Then, finally, the teddy bear stopped. “You know,” he said, “If you take down the wetlands then where will the animals live? Where will the trees and plants go? What will happen to the little pond that the animals drink out of?” He kept on questioning the Mayor.
“Maybe you’re right,” the Mayor said. “I agree. We won’t take down the wetlands.”
 “Thank you!” the teddy bear said. “Can I take down the sign?”
 “Sure,” the Mayor said proudly. Then the teddy bear went off to take down the sign.
 That is why we need the wetlands.

Second Prize - Kylie Nott - Short Story Age 5-10 - Category A

All About Watersheds

One day Chirpy the bird was flying above the watershed that she lived in and said to herself, “I wonder what watersheds are? I think I’m going to ask my friend, Slimy the Snake, to see if he knows what watersheds are.”
When Chirpy got to Slimy she asked him what watersheds are. “Slimy, what is a watershed, really?”
 “Chirpy,” said Slimy, “A watershed is land that water flows across on its way to a river, stream, lake, or ocean.”
 “Oh, so that’s what a watershed is, Slimy.”
 “Is there anything else that you want to know about watersheds?”
 “Yes, why are watersheds important?”
 “Well, watersheds have trees and plants that give shade and clean water. Watersheds provide habitat for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife,” said Slimy.
“What does aquatic and terrestrial mean, Slimy?”
 “Aquatic means animals that live in the water and terrestrial means animals that live on land,” said Slimy.
“Oh, that makes sense now.”
 “Okay, now let me find where I left off . . . oh yes, watersheds also provide fresh drinking water, and you can use water for fun and recreation … like swimming!”
 “0h, so that's what a watershed is, Slimy.”
 “Yep, Chirpy. Is that all that you want to know about watersheds?”
 “No. I also want to know how I can protect them.”
 “Well, you can protect them by not pouring paints, oils, or chemicals down the drain. You can clean up garbage on the ground and never litter. You can clean up after your pets … and always get rid of hazardous waste properly! Reduce your waste and make sure you don’t pollute. Plant native species of plants. They grow better and you don’t have to use so much pesticide or fertilizer.”
 “Okay now, Chirpy. Is that everything?”
 “Yes, now I know how to save and protect the watershed!”

First Prize - Emma Stilwell - Poetry - Age 5 – 10 - Category D

Wetlands Poem
 The Wetlands are wet and so are my tears,
 They will burst out like crazy if the land disappears.

So don’t let me frown, keep this fun place around,
 So the animals can stay and play on the ground.
 It means so much to me, so let’s keep all the trees,
 Because they are all homes for the birds and the bees.
 The fish in the pond swim all day long,
 So taking their home away would be wrong.

Second Prize - Becky Hallahan - Poetry - Age 5 – 10 - Category D


Wonderful sounds fill the air
 Exciting noises fill the trees
 Tall trees all around
 Landlords of oxygen
 Amazing animals
 Never-ending plants
 Delicate sight
 Sunny nature

 First Prize - Isa VanEsveld - Essay - Age 5 – 10 - Category G

What The Wetlands Mean To Me

The wetlands are great homes for all the animals and the trees. If we allow the wetlands to disappear the animals will have no place to stay. The wetlands have inspired me to act better. If no one takes cares of the wetlands it could turn into a wasteland that is not useful for the environment. That is why we need to keep and take care of the wetlands for the sake of the trees and the animals.
 We don’t want our wetlands to be hurt. Our school has been planting trees and making the wetlands on our property a better place. We need to keep doing that. That is why we need to spread the word to take care of the wetlands. It makes me feel great if I do new things for the environment. I feel great if I do that. This is what the wetlands mean to me!

Second Prize - Janey Brand - Essay - Age 5 – 10 - Category G

Special Meaning

Places that have special meaning are often named after something or someone. Lake Ontario is named after one of Canada’s provinces, for example. Lake Ontario has special meaning because it means “lake of shining waters.” Other places that have special meaning include Lake Louise because it is named after Queen Victoria’s daughter. Prince Edward Island is named after Prince Edward. Lake Huron is named after the Huron First Nations people who lived along the eastern shores. I can protect these areas by being a role model and make certain that people don’t throw garbage into rivers and lakes. I can tell the community that there are many beautiful watersheds and that they should be proud and take care of it for many years to come.


First Prize - Obi Siebert - Short story - Age 11 -14 - Category B

The Turtle

Last year there was a turtle named Tiny and he lived by himself. He was the only turtle in the whole wetland. It was a small wetland behind a school. One day Tiny was wandering along and saw some litter. Tiny said, “People these days have no respect for anything!”
Tiny did not know what to do: the garbage was the size of him. Tiny was just a small painted turtle. Tiny knew he had to do something so he called in the eagle. Within five minutes, Eli the Eagle was ready to heave the garbage with his talons. He grabbed the garbage and flew high and away to the edge of the wetlands and dropped it in a garbage can.
 Over the next couple of days Eli and Tiny cleaned up the wetlands until they met their match: men in big machines. They escaped. They had to make a plan. They recruited the Big Boy Bears. They were a group of three feared bears that lived in a cave. Emma the Elephant was brought in as well.
 The next day all the animals gathered to get their jobs. “Emma, You will be a tank, firing acorns out of the trunk.”
Tiny was not afraid. He stood up tall on a branch and said, “What are you doing? You are destroying my home and the whole watershed!”
The workers just stared at Tiny. “Did you just talk?” asked the boss.
“Yeah, I did!” said Tiny, “and you should stop destroying our land.”
 “Why?” he asked.
“Watersheds are important to keep the water you drink clean,” said Tiny, and at this the workers turned the machines around and left. The next day they returned and put up a fence and made it a nature reserve dedicated to Tiny the Turtle.

Second Prize - Molly Ann Young - Short story - Age 11 -14 - Category B

The Watershed

One day, Rocky and his friend, Ellington, went outside to Rocky’s backyard and, in his backyard, was a wetland area. The town owned it but the boys always went back there to play guitar, play drums, or any other instrument they knew, which was a lot!
 They went outside and saw a sign that read: ‘Wetland Demolition: Monday, June 17th.’
The boys were so furious they ripped that sign off of the tree and kicked it around for about five minutes, and then they raced each other back to the pond. Then they knew why it was closing.
 Rocky was the first one there and he said, “Ellington, I know why the sign was there.”
Ellington caught up and was about to jump in when he saw what Rocky was looking at. His response was, “Oh, maybe we shouldn’t have torn that sign down ... But we should create awareness about this!”
 “Thanks, Ellington, thank you for stating the obvious!” Rocky said sarcastically.
 What had happened was there was lots of pollution throughout the pond so the animals had died and there was litter all around the wetlands. The water was even turning yellow! So the boys started working on their wetland awareness program. They made posters and hung them around town telling people what and what not to do to keep wetlands safe. The posters said to pick up garbage and not to dump waste. After that, they got to work around the wetlands cleaning up garbage and just getting it back in shape, except for the water which they couldn’t fix. Then, the day of the demolition, their life will change, no more wetlands. They were determined to convince the town council to not destroy the wetlands. They saw people coming so they yelled, “Why are you destroying the wetlands and building a community centre? We love it here!”
The boys watched as the men started destroying the wetland; tearing down trees, draining the water out, taking the animals to a zoo. It was a sad time for everybody. Eventually Ellington said to Rocky, “Did the man say what they were building there?”
 “Yeah, a community centre, why?”
 “Well if we can convince the men to not build a building there and create a new wetlands area then everyone will be happy!”
So, after a lot of talking and convincing, the men gave in and told the town council, they thought it was a great idea and all they need is to get volunteers. A lot. So Rocky, Ellington and the demolition guys hung sign-up sheets around town and before they knew it, half the town had signed up … even the man who was going to get rid of the wetlands in the first place! Before they knew it there was a whole new wetland area, people were always there. They were swimming, reading, drawing, playing guitar, and more! The boys’ idea was a success!

Candice Abell - Honourable Mention - Short story - Age 11 -14 - Category B

The Watershed

One day, in the Grade 5/6 class, Mr. Cann was talking about watersheds.
“So, everyone get into partners and make a project about what you think a watershed is.”
Molly went with Candice.
“So, Molly, what do you think a watershed is?”
 “Hum, a shed full of water?” Molly said questioning herself.
“Yeah, that’s what it sounds like.”
 “Oh, I almost forgot, if you have no idea what a watershed is you can search it.”
Mr. Cann said, “Well, that’s a good idea – we can search it!” So, the next day, they went to school, and they searched the topic. They learned that a watershed carries water over the land after rain falls and snow melts. They learned that, drop by drop, water runs over land and soil, and into creeks, and streams, making its way to larger rivers and eventually the lake. The important thing about watersheds is that if there aren’t enough plants, trees, and wetlands, runoff can affect the quality of water for the living downstream, Molly read.
“Okay, Molly, we just need to put it in a project and we will be done.”
 “Okay,” she said, “but the last part – the important thing about watersheds – is what we do on the land affects our water quality for all communities living downstream, what does it mean?”
 “I think it means that what we do in a town affects the water where the hills lead to the ponds that leads to streams, that leads to the river, and then to the lake. Maybe I can draw a picture for you to understand. Okay, so it will rain or snow then it will go downstream. Then the water will get to the town. Any waste could then go into rivers and then into the lake.”
 “Oh I get it now.”
 “Molly, let's make a better picture but let’s colour it.”
So, that’s what they did.
“This is the last day for the watershed project,” Mr. Cann said, happily.
 So, the next day were the big presentations. “First up, Molly and Candice,” Mr. Cann said.
“Okay, we have a diagram to show you while we read,” Molly said. “A watershed carries water from the land after rain falls and snow melts. Drop by drop, water is passed over the land and into creeks, and streams, making its way to larger rivers and eventually the lake. The important thing about watersheds is what we do on the land affects water quality for all communities living downstream,” Candice read.
“We think the last part means that what we do in town affects the water that comes from the hills that lead to the ponds, streams, rivers and lake. Here’s a picture.”
So, everyone else went and then Mr. Cann said, "Okay, a watershed is more than just water going down stream. It also cleans the water for us and if we cut down all the trees then all the soil will fall down and be like a mudslide.”
 “Can we list all the things not to do and how to help wetlands then make a poster with our partners?” asked Candice.
 "Well, that’s a great idea," said Mr. Cann.
 So, this was what the whiteboard looked like.
 How you can help and save wetlands?
 What to do to save wetlands:
– Plant more trees around the wetlands and watershed
– Pick up any garbage you see the ground.
– Create less garbage.

What not to do:
– Don’t dump paints and chemicals down household drains. D
– Don’t let your pets poop on the beach. Stoop and scoop if they do go!

So, the children made some posters about the watersheds then they put them up around the school. The school decided to plant some trees around their wetlands. Then the whole school made posters to put up around town. The town started to plant trees too and it all started with Mr.Cann’s Grade 5/6 class.

 First Prize - Nicholas Cripps - Poetry - Age 11 - 14 - Category E

A Plea for Change

I sit forgotten, grass grows around me.
 It’s funny how the world moves on without the most important things.
 Slimy bugs and worms slowly eat my carcass.
 The earth, year by year, slowly swallows me.
 Its cold embrace cracks my hope and faith.
 I am at peace.
 What’s left of me finally sinks into the Earth’s mouth and the final gulp echoes still.
 In the day, I was a tree branch – once mighty, then weakened, now nothing but mulch.
 I played my part until they came with razors and machines
 and sunk their teeth into my heart and spit me out.
 I tumbled to the ground with a thud.
 I pity those who did this to me as we are all linked.
 I wish you could see that the water under my roots will cease to be.
 The soil around me will be soft and cease to give me nutrients.
 On the bank of the river my soil will fall and be swept away.
 Erosion is my slow-touch killer. It ruins my world.
 Around me the river fills in, one last trickle before it dies.
 The lake doesn’t eat anymore.
 It gets hungry, shrinks and slowly it too sinks deep into the Earth’s mantle.
 As the water once fed us all so now we all die.
 The chain reaction applies to us all
 but begins and ends with only one tiny tree.

First Prize - Hanna Dunn - Essay - Age 11 - 14 - Category H

Why Watersheds Are Important

We need to keep watersheds even if some people think that it does nothing for the Earth. They are wrong because watersheds do more than you think. Watersheds give us an important habitat for our animals. They provide fresh drinking water, they support industries, and recreational uses. We need all of these things. Did you know that a watershed is an area of land that water flows through on its way to a water body? North America has five main watersheds: the Arctic, the Atlantic, Hudson Bay, the Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico.
 Things that can hurt watersheds include motor oils, road salt, pesticides and fertilizers, sewers, industrial pollution, and de­vegetation. We need to reduce these things so that our watershed will stay healthy.
 I think wetlands in the watershed are a good place because they make lots of homes for animals and lots of different kinds of plants. Here are some examples. Some animals are wild turkey, ducks, frogs, deer, beavers, and many species of fish.
 This is why I think that watersheds are important to the Earth. They make many homes for different animals and different plants grow in the wetlands. This is why we need to keep our watersheds so that these animals will have somewhere to live and so we have fresh drinking water and so plants can grow. This is why we need to keep watersheds.

Second Prize - Meredith Marier - Essay - Age 11 - 14 - Category H


Did you know we all live in a watershed? Watersheds are places we call home. A watershed is an area of land that catches rain and snow and where water flows downward into a specific river, stream, or lake. Watersheds are what supply our drinking water, water for agriculture and manufacturing, and offers opportunities for habitat to numerous plants and animals. Unfortunately various forms of pollution can interfere with the health of the watershed. Therefore it is important to protect the quality of our watershed.
 Here are some ways you can keep a watershed healthy:

– Conserve water every day. Take shorter showers, fix leaks, and turn off the water when you’re not using it
– Use native plants that require little watering
– Recycle yard waste in a compost pile & use a mulching mower,
– Pick up after your dog, and dispose of the waste in the toilet or the trash
– Drive less – Walk or ride a bicycle

We should really care for our watersheds and the wetlands in our watersheds. Once we lose a wetland, it’s really hard to get it back to its natural state. Did you know one-third of Canada’s species at risk depend on wetlands for all or part of their Iife cycle? Do you want to know what wetlands do for us?
 Here are some points of what wetlands do for us:

– Wetlands contribute to human health and the health of our economy.
– Wetlands act as ponds that purify water and naturally retain water, preventing flooding.
– Wetlands are home to many diverse species.
– Wetlands will play a crucial role in the future as our world’s climate is changing.
– Wetlands are only six per cent of the world’s land surface, but they hold back twice as much carbon as the tropical forests of the world.
– Wetlands are valuable for recreation such as hunting, fishing, and bird watching.

Wetlands are closely connected to the water underground. Some wetlands are important because they recharge groundwater. That helps keep up the amount of water we have. Wetlands can also help keep up the quality of water.
 Animals and plants depend on wetlands. People depend on clean water and wetlands help keep our water free from contaminants.
 Wetlands cover about 14 per cent of the land area of Canada. There used to be lots of wetlands throughout the country but wetlands are becoming more and more scarce. We have lost the majority of our wetlands in southern Ontario.
 Wetlands used to be considered as wasteland. Many of southern Canada’s wetlands have been drained or filled.
 Recently, we have started to learn the value of wetlands. Our school is helping to create a wetland. We need to protect these ecosystems. However, they are still disappearing because humans are putting pressure on them through pollution, removal of natural areas, and climate change.
 In conclusion, my research has showed that our wetlands are disappearing. We have ecosystems and wildlife that depend on our wetlands. Without wetlands, these ecosystems will cease to exist. Therefore, we should do everything in our power to protect what wetlands we have left.

Award Winners 2011-2012:

The 2011-2012 award winners are:

 Honourable Mention, Essay Category, Allyson Jewitt, Keeping Our Watershed Clean
 Second Place, Essay Category, Alex Metzger, Wetlands
 First Place, Essay Category, Joseph Corrie, The Importance of Wetlands

 Honourable Mention, Poetry Category, Eugenia Pentland, Watersheds are Cool!
 Honourable Mention, Poetry Category, Deidre Gerrits, The Wetlands
 Second Place, Poetry Category, Zoë Bieman, A Journey from the Watershed
 First Place, Poetry Category, Lexi Merner, Wetlands Poem

Short story
 Honourable Mention, Short Story Category, Janey Brand, Watershed Story
 Second Place, Short Story Category, Shauna Van Osch, Daisy Duck and the Watershed Tale
 First Place, Short Story Category, Kristy Metzger, Finn Flippers and the Watershed Rescue

Honourable Mention, Essay Category, Allyson Jewitt, Keeping Our Watershed Clean

Keeping Our Watershed Clean
We need to keep our watershed, clean and healthy.
 It is used by people and animals so we shouldn’t litter in it our misuse it.
 The watershed is a home to many animals and plants that are good for the environment. How do you think the animals feel when you ruin their home with garbage?
 How would you feel?
 People litter in the wetlands and think they are doing no harm to anyone or anything but really they are hurting themselves.
 They hurt the wetlands that grow many trees.
 The trees die if you make their habitat around them a pile of garbage.
 With no trees there is no oxygen and with no oxygen there are no humans!
 We need to respect and care for the watershed otherwise there will be nothing else for the next generation of people to enjoy.
 It is simple. Just start getting involved by helping Mother Nature keep the wetlands clean.
 We need to change the habits that humans have. The watershed is an important part of the Earth! Without it, where would we be? Nowhere!

Second Place, Essay Category, Alex Metzger, Wetlands

I feel that the wetlands aren’t getting enough attention, so that is why
 I am talking about them today.
 There are many ways to save and protect wetlands. You could plant acres of trees around the wetlands so they can breathe and clean the water. They do this by leaves and sticks filtering it.
 Then, when the water comes out of the river, stream, or creek, it will be cleaner than it was when it started.
 But some lakes are polluted and the clean water could become dirty.
 So we have to keep our lakes clean! Many animals inhabit wetlands. There are animals such as frogs, fish, beavers, and tons more.
 If these wetlands were to be polluted few of these animals would live there. Animals will help the wetlands too by producing fertilizer for the flowers and trees to grow.
 A wetland is land that has a wet spongy soil, like a marsh, or a swamp, or a bog.
 We should prevent development from taking away wetlands.
 I would fight to make urban planners aware that we should not bulldoze a wetland out of existence. Wetlands are important to townships, towns, and cities.
 I would also encourage all people not to litter because it would affect all the wetlands and animals. That is why I think we should save and protect wetlands.
 So get involved!

First Place, Essay Category, Joseph Corrie, The Importance of Wetlands

The Importance of Wetlands
By Joseph Corrie

Wetlands are important and I want to persuade you to protect them. I will do this by stating what a wetland does, how we can protect a wetland by planting trees, and finally why we should not pollute wetlands.
 Our wetlands are very important because they make shelter for the animals. They also help start the water cycle. The water cycle is where water comes from – the clouds which provide rain and then the water filters through rocks and soil. The wetlands are there to help make a water cycle. After the water sits for a while it disappears into the clouds.
 The wetlands are a shelter for the animals such as frogs and groundhogs. The wetlands provide water for the deer, turtles, fish, beavers, and snakes.
 We should never cut down the trees near the wetlands because the roots keep the dirt out of the water. If we hade no trees there would be no wetlands there would be a flat surface because all the dirt would go into the water. The trees are shelter for the birds to put there nests in.
 Another argument is we should not pollute the wetlands because if we pollute the wetlands we will kill hundreds of animals. They would lose their water and where they live would be filled with garbage. The rain could become acidic and the rain could kills plants and go into the water and kill animals in the water.
 I hope this persuades you to help protect the wetlands: for example, do not cut down trees and do not pollute the wetlands.

Honourable Mention, Poetry Category, Eugenia Pentland, Watersheds are Cool!

Watersheds are Cool!
By Eugenia Pentland

Watersheds are important to my community
 After all, they bring us together
 To plant trees and pick up trash
 Every single day
 Returning back to our watersheds, what we have removed
 Saving what we have left (of it)
 Helping out in every way, bit by bit, day by day
 Everyone: Come together, and
 Do your share in helping to
 Save all of our watersheds, everywhere!

All right, everybody ready
 Remember to grab your shovels, garden forks, and trowels
 Oh, and do not forget your gloves
 Everybody ready, let us go and plant those trees!

Can we do it? Yes we can!
 Okay, so go and grab your friends, family, and neighbours,
 Of course, do not forget your classmates or teachers,
 We all want to learn
 To love, protect and save
 All of our watersheds
 Because watersheds are cool!

Honourable Mention, Poetry Category, Deidre Gerrits, The Wetlands

The Wetlands
By Deidre Gerrits

Go up to the wetlands
 What do you see?
 Birds and rabbits and lots of trees.
 Walk through the wetland
 What do you hear?
 Bugs and flies buzzing near.
 Go to the wetland
 What do you feel?
 Fresh water and trees.
 Is it real?
 Walk on the wetland
 What do you smell?
 Fresh trees, flowers.
 Can’t you tell?

Second Place, Poetry Category, Zoë Bieman, A Journey from the Watershed

A Journey from the Watershed
By Zöe Bieman
 It starts to pour, making outside seem like a blur.
 The thunder roars.
 Lightning fills the sky.
 Wind whirls around its surroundings as if a hurricane is coming.
 The storm seems as though it is infinite.
 The last haul of water dumps like a bucket, clearing the sky for the marvellous rainbow. Morphing from a storm to a thing of beauty, you can hear the steady drops of water joining.
 Raindrops gather into one pool, running swiftly to get to the flowing pond. There they stay for only a small amount of time, continuing their travels through the winding stream.
 The same raindrops form the water we have today, now rushing down the stream to get to the turbulent river. Finally arriving, the water’s splashing and crashing on the rocks.
 Whipping through the twists and turns, the current takes every last drop with it.
 Water that was once tiny raindrops, now just a molecule of the deep sea.

First Place, Poetry Category, Lexi Merner, Wetlands Poem

Wetlands Poem
By Lexi Merner

The wetlands are beautiful,
 they help animals, from birds to bees
 Because the wetlands have clean, fresh water it provides nutrients to hundreds of trees.
 Crazy things are happening to the land many animals call home
 Diggers and dozers are stripping the wetlands, making people let out a sad groan.
 Every day the wetlands make me and others smile
 Fabulous scenery, fresh open smell, why not sit down and stay for a while?
 Go walk through the wetlands, watch nature at its best
 Hear the sounds of peace, as a robin makes her nest
 I love our wetlands, and all the joy that they bring
 Just a walk to the wetland, time and time again,
 Look at one thing, hear another, take in everything
 Keep exploring our wetland, from the ground to tops of trees
 Look around, feel free, but don’t harm anything please.
 Make the wetland your home away from home, admire it always,
 Open your mind, think of all of things that can be discovered in the wetland nowadays!
 People need to care more
 Question yourself, ask what would happen if no one came to explore.
 Remind yourself what would happen if the wetland was ignored
 Stop and think for a minute what would happen if people just got bored?
 There would be no wetlands for you and others to admire
 Under the trees there are things too see, things that people desire
 Vancouver to Nunavut and around the world people should know the importance of wetlands and the fun that they contain
 Wetlands are so amazing, Mother Nature’s wonder,
 to hurt the wetland would bring many people pain
 Come to the wetland, and walk through it
 You and I walk through and stop to sit
 Zoos are fun, but wetlands allow you to see nature the way God intended it to be
 Now you know the wetlands, won’t you come to visit the wetlands with me?

Honourable Mention, Short Story Category, Janey Brand, Watershed Story

Watershed Story
By Janey Brand

A girl was walking, on October 28th, 1988, when she saw a beautiful wetland.
 Every day she walked by it, but one day she went to the wetland and there were construction workers tearing it down.
 So the girl went to them and said, “If you tear it down I’m going with it.”
They told her to leave but she didn’t because she said “This is the animals’ watershed.”
They didn’t listen. So the girl went home and read an old notice that said you shouldn’t tear down a wetland that is a special place for animals.
 When she returned to the nature area it was too late. It was hot like a desert.
 The girl did not admit defeat. She decided to plant more trees, so that the animals could have a nice place to live.
“Whenever I take a walk there will be a beautiful wetland in front of my eyes,” she said. “It will be a healthy environment for the animals and the people and the watershed will be beautiful.”
* * *
It is now October 28th, 2088
 The wetland is filled with lots of animals and they have clean and healthy water from which to drink and where they can swim. The children and adults now go back there with snowshoes and see the watershed in the wintertime.

Second Place, Short Story Category, Shauna Van Osch, Daisy Duck and the Watershed Tale

Daisy Duck and the Watershed Tale
By Shauna Van Osch
 Once upon a time, there lived a duck named Daisy. One day she decided to go visit her Papa.
 He lived in the wetlands behind her school in Clinton.
 So off Daisy went.
 While she was walking she could not believe how much garbage there was. When she got to her Papa’s house she stepped up to his door and knocked. Her Papa opened the door, and she ran to him giving him a big hug.
“Papa,” she said. “Is anyone going to clean up the garbage in the wetland?”
Papa replied sadly, “No one has been here for years!”
Daisy thought for a moment. “Well, tomorrow is Earth Day. I will ask the school if they will help clean up back here.”
The next day, Daisy and her classmates went to clean up the wetlands. Papa was very happy and gave everyone a big thank you and made them some nice yummy chocolate chip cookies, and apple juice!
 Now, every time Daisy goes back to the wetlands she cleans up the garbage and this makes Papa very happy.
 Papa is very proud of Daisy and her classmates for doing their part in looking after the community.

First Place, Short Story Category, Kristy Metzger, Finn Flippers and the Watershed Rescue

Finn Flippers and the Watershed Rescue
Once upon a time there lived a fish named Finn Flippers.
 He lived in the town of Coralot with his two friends Bee and Cupcake.
 Cupcake was a purple octopus and Bee was a worm.
 One day Finn and his friends were going up to the Bayfield River to visit his
 Grandmother Pearl.
 They travelled for three whole days on Swordfish Swimlines.
 When they arrived to Lake Huron they were so exhausted that they decided to spend the night in a motel.
 After the group woke up the next morning they continued their journey. The river was only about two hours away which gave the friends some time to talk and think about what they would do at Finn’s Grandma’s house.
 The Bayfield River was part of a large watershed that lead to Lake Huron. After an hour and a half of travelling, Finn noticed the water turning a yucky brown colour. Something must be wrong, thought Finn, as they swam through the water. Normally the water there was crystal clear, filled with fish and other animals. Oh well, maybe it's just a dirty part of the lake he thought.
 As they swam, Cupcake decided to sing a song. “Swim, Swim, Swim, Swim, Swim gently through the wetland, off to Grandma Pearl’s ...” Suddenly came a, “WOAH!”
Finn Bee and Cupcake were shocked at what they saw. Right there in front of them was the entrance to the Bayfield River. Except the river looked a little different. Trash was everywhere, from floating down the river to being attached to the homes of fish and rocks. Finn swam to the top of the water and saw nothing but grass and stumps on the ground near him. What happened to all of the trees? That’s when Finn knew what he had to do. He had to go and find his grandmother and stop the monsters who were destroying this precious area! On and on, Finn, Bee, and Cupcake swam until they finally reached Grandma Pearl’s house. They knocked on the door and went inside to find Grandma Pearl having a cup of coral tea. “Grandma Pearl!”, cried Finn. “Oh, Finn, my dear – How are you?”
After hugs and kisses, Finn quickly asked his grandma if she was well and explained to her what was going on in the world above them. “Trash is being thrown into the river and destroying our neighbours’ homes!”
 “The world above us will be all full of smog without trees!”, yelled the friends. “We need to do something!”
Just then Grandma Pearl handed Finn a piece of paper. “This is a riddle that you must solve in order to go up to the human world and stop these monsters of which you speak.”
Finn took the paper and thanked her. On the paper it read: “To get these awesome super powers you must find the wettest flower.”
Find the wettest flower. “I wonder what that means,” said Bee.
“Oh, I know!” said Cupcake.
 What is a flower that grows where it is wet and grows in ponds and rivers?”
 “A lily pad!”, they all cried together.
  “Yes, a lily pad!”, said Pearl.
 They thanked Grandma and they were off to the surface to find a lily pad. They searched for about 10 minutes when they finally found one. All together Finn, Bee, and Cupcake touched the lily pad. Then, all of a sudden, they all rose up in the air and started to breathe and fly. “Wow! This is a perfect way to help save this protected wetland!”, said Bee.
 With the help of Mother Nature, Finn, Bee, and Cupcake worked together to restore the area. When they finished, the sun was shining and trees were back. Also the water was clean, and garbage and recycling cans were laid out in local resting areas and parks.
 Most importantly, the wetlands were under the watchful eye of the friends.
“I’m glad we were able to help save this wonderful place,” said Cupcake.
“We agree,” replied Finn and Bee.
 After that they went back to Grandma Pearl’s house to have a cup of Coral tea.

Award Winners 2010-2011:

The 2010-2011 award winners are:
 Mikaela Gibbs, Saving Me, First Place (Short Story, Ages 11-14)
 Lara Nauwelaerts, Our Trip to the Wetlands, Second Place (Short Story, Ages 11-14)
 Jet vanEsveld, Watershed, Honourable Mention (Story Short, Ages 11-14)
 Kate Smith, Watershed Poem, First Place (Poetry, Ages 11-14)
 Alexis Merner, A Tree with the Name Hope, Second Place (Poetry, Ages 11-14)
 Amy Meier, A Watershed Poem, Honourable Mention (Poetry, Ages 11-14)
 Tiffany Towns, The Watershed, First Place (Essay, Ages 11-14)
 Kris Huber, Watershed Story, Second Place (Essay, Ages 11-14)
 Dana Wilson, Ashley Whelan and Fiona Brands, A Lesson Learned by Moonlight, First Place (Short Story, Ages 5-10)
 Julie Chun, Melanie Wilson, and Raven Blyde, From Trash to Tadpoles, Second Place (Short Story, Ages 5-10)

ABCA presented the inaugural Watershed Tales student environmental writing awards at the Conservation Awards evening on Thursday, March 17, 2011.

All watershed schools were eligible. For map of watershed boundaries, contest rules, submission form, and more information, visit Winning entries from students have been published online at

Mikaela Gibbs,
First Place
Short Story, Ages 11-14 Category

Saving Me
 I can’t believe I’m really seeing this.
 It makes my eyes burn and my stomach churn into tight knots. Toxic pollutants from industrial waste are draining into the stream like water. Tourists are throwing their trash into the stream as if it were a garbage can. Construction workers are dumping silt along the side of the water. I start to remember my previous wetlands but the only thing I can really remember is being driven out of my own home by these monstrous creatures. Don’t they have a brain? Don’t they realize what they’re doing?
 My heart starts to thump with excitement as I imagine myself running at these things with my horns, ready to flip them onto the hard ground, their backs aching with pain too severe to describe. But then again, because I am a deer, the only thing I’d see would be a bullet before I was able to try to make a difference or peace.
 Still, I keep trying to understand, but I just can’t comprehend their thinking. Do they honestly think that shopping malls, hair salons, and even residential areas, are more important than something’s life, or even worse, someone’s life? I shudder to think of a poor innocent human taking an afternoon stroll through this wetland, their mind not even aware of what might happen to them. Suddenly, I hear gunfire and the start-up of a steam shovel.
 I panic, and I breathe so heavily I pant. My knees buckle, but I force myself to stay standing. “This isn’t real,” I tell myself. “You’re being ridiculous.” But it doesn’t work. My heart feels like it’s going to rip out from underneath me, and my legs go numb. Why must they do this? Can’t they see what they’re putting us through? What they’re putting me through? Don’t they ever think of us?
 All my worrying increases my problems and I start to feel dizzy. “This isn’t happening,” I think. I push myself up with all my strength, but it’s no good. I collapse and my eyes roll. It’s dark. “Why?” I scream. I know no one hears me. I can’t even hear myself. I’m sucked into a world of darkness, a world of no down or up, in or out, with no end. Could this honestly be the future for my home and my life? I don’t want to live this way. I’d rather die.
 Suddenly I hear an explosion. “Wake up,” I scream to myself. Don’t let them get away with this. Suddenly my legs and my strength return to me. I scramble off the cold, dirty ground, and set my head forward. “It’s now or never,” I whisper. I run so fast through the wetland that the trees passing me are nothing but big walls of green. My eyes are wide and alert, and I run even faster. Then I see them: the monsters. I gasp as I see a bulldozer, the height of King Kong and the length of Jaws, jab its front shovel under the roots of a tree. “No,” I shriek, but it’s no use. I stand by, watching as that bulldozer rips that poor tree from its very roots, its very life. I can’t take it anymore. I fall to the cold, harsh ground, and my sides heave.
 Whatever happens next I don’t know. The next thing I hear is “Hey, Mike. We’ve got a dead one over here.” I cringe under his careless words, but I have no strength to show it. I’d rather be in a grove than in this. And looking at what they’re turning my ‘home’ into, I’d be living in a grave anyway.
 Then I feel the gentle touch of hands beneath me, obviously a woman’s. ... wait, a woman’s? It can’t be, but it is. I can’t see her, but I can feel her presence and hear her voice in my ear. “I’m so sorry,” she whispers. “I wish there was some way to tell you how much I wish I could stop them.” “But you can,” I think. “Please, tell them this isn’t right. Tell them they’re destroying my home, and my future.” I know what you’re thinking: I’m being ridiculous. But there was nothing else I could say. After all my years of being tortured and alone, I finally met someone who understood how it felt and what it must have been like. Tears spring to my eyes as I realize that this wondrous woman will put me somewhere to rot even though I’m not dead. But that moment never comes. I feel her hands under me, her fingers stroking me ever so gently. I don’t understand. We must be at least 20 feet out of the watershed by now.
 I tell myself I must look, for this truly could be a dangerous and life-threatening trap. But if I risk this, she’ll realize I am alive, and she’ll most likely be scared ... but I will show her I’m not scary. I slowly open my eyes. She hasn’t noticed yet and I plan to keep it that way. But what I see next makes my eyes open wide with curiosity and wonder. This is ... weird. The clouds above my head are pure gold and the sun shines so beautifully it makes me feel as if I shouldn’t be here. I quickly glance at the woman and notice tears are in her eyes, but a big smile is across her face. She suddenly stops and stares up, wonder in her gorgeous eyes. I look up then, not caring at the moment if she notices I’m not dead. But what I see in front of me almost makes me jump out of this woman’s arms and bow.
 A man is staring at both of us, mainly me, the gold crown upon his head gleaming so elegantly in the sunshine.
 The woman starts to speak to him. “Please,” she whispers, “Do not let this creature live in a world where its kind doesn’t matter to humankind. The people in that wetland, they don’t know what they’re doing. Please make it impossible for them to destroy it.”
I look into this glorious man’s eyes and I beg silently, even though I know he can hear me perfectly. He smiles down at me and answers back. “You are my own creation. You are only one of the most beautiful beings to live on this earth. You do not deserve this, which is exactly why I will not allow it to happen. Remember always that I love you and one day, the right day, you will be living with me here, forever, and always ... eternally.” Tears roll down my face. How could this man love me? I’m only a helpless animal. I beg to him silently that he will let me stay, that this can be my home right now.
 I speak too soon. Suddenly he’s gone, and then the woman’s gone. The gold clouds turn to blackness and I am whirling back, away from this place, and then I am all alone. I’m once again surrounded by darkness, but surprisingly, it’s peaceful. Then I open my eyes.
 The trees are calm. The wind is cool. The sounds of man and machine are nowhere to be found. I see the woman, and the man with the gold crown, in my mind and I thank them both for saving this. For saving me. For that was truly the best dream anything and anyone could ever experience.

Lara Nauwelaerts,
Second Place,
Short story (maximum 1,250 words) Age 11 – 14

 Our Trip to the Wetlands
“Look, a squirrel! A bunny!” Look over there, it’s a chipmunk!”
We were singing in class when we saw all these animals rushing by! We tried to be as quiet as possible, but it’s kind of weird when a stampede of animals rushes by. I just hoped the teacher didn’t notice, but I guessed he would when he sees the marks on our math test.
 We were all so fascinated by what was happening outside that we didn’t realize that the teacher was right there. We were still trying to whisper as quietly as possible when the teacher tapped on my shoulder once. I didn’t really know what it was, so I ignored it. Then the teacher tapped on my shoulder again. I ignored it again. That was a bad idea because the next thing I knew the teacher was yelling and screaming! At first I didn’t know why he was yelling at us and then I realized that he was yelling at us because we weren’t paying any attention. I hardly even knew what he was yelling about because, right at that moment, a chipmunk jumped on the window sill and was whacking his head on the window. All I heard was that we could stop doing math and that we could learn more about our wetlands.
 Mr. Freak handed out these gigantic text books and notebooks. I was kind of scared at the thought that we had to read that. But, luckily, we only had to read three pages.
 We learned that if you don’t have a buffer around the wetlands it could be very harmful for our animals that live there. Everyone in the class realized that our farmland is decreasing because the cities and towns are increasing so we need to build a buffer around our wetlands.
 Mr. Freak got an awesome idea that we would go behind the school and see the wetlands for ourselves. The next day when we went to school Mr. Freak announced that we were going to the wetlands. We were all so excited. But obviously Mr. Freak gave us a huge speech about how we should behave. At last we began our journey to the wetlands.
 When we got there, there were no animals! Then Mr. Freak explained that the animals we saw yesterday were running away from our wetlands because we have no buffer. When we came back to the school we decided to collect money to buy trees for a buffer. For the rest of the week we collected money and over the weekend Mr. Freak bought trees. When we came back to school everyone went back behind the school to plant trees for our buffer. At the end of the day we ended up running for the bus and I never got on the bus so I had to run all the way home. That night when I was looking out the window I saw an entire stampede of smiling animals rush by from the school, back towards their wetlands.
 Please let us build a buffer so that our poor animals don’t suffer.

Jet vanEsveld,
Honourable Mention,
Short story,
Ages 11-14 Category

Watershed Story
 One day I was walking behind our school and I noticed two or three trees just standing there, and a little bit of water right in a hole. It looked just like a pothole. So I ran back to school into the classroom and told my class. I had an idea!
 My idea was to make a protective buffer zone around the stand-alone trees. After I was done telling my idea, my class thought everything I said was just all a dream. So I did everything myself, went back to the watershed and started brainstorming ideas!
 I wrote a letter to the school board for permission to plant the buffer zone.
 A few days later I got a letter back.
 I started raising funds for the wetland.
 After I got enough money I started buying seedlings. Then I went back behind the school and started planting the buffer.
 The two next days it rained and the wetland got bigger and bigger.
 One year later I went to visit the buffer with my family. I had a picnic and I noticed a lot of wildlife. After the picnic was over my mom told me how proud of me she was for planting the buffer. I was proud of myself too. In conclusion, I think wildlife and nature are really important to me. Everyday more and more wetlands are getting destroyed because of landowners taking them down.
 So help me fulfill my dream by spreading my environmental message.

Kate Smith,
First Place
Poetry Ages 11-14 Category

Watershed Poem
 Five steps closer that I see,
 I feel that someone’s following me,
 At the watershed for now,
 I look over there and then I bow,
 I see the fish swimming around,
 Up in the air and then back down,
 Birds chirping in my ear,
 Looking like they have no fear,
 Ducks waddling behind my back,
 Hey! There’s another pack,
 The turtles walking in the water,
 Swimming with the beautiful otters,
 The deer running by the trees,
 Feeling that amazing breeze
 The watershed is a home for wildlife,
 But think - It’s only a little part of my life.

The watershed is a beautiful place
 and we need to protect the animals’ habitat
 or else they won’t have a place to live.

We are very lucky to have the wetland behind our school!
 If we didn’t have the wetland,
 Behind our school,
 We wouldn’t be able to go on hikes
 or cross country ski.
 Let’s all be helpful
 and protect the watersheds
 and the wetlands!

Alexis Merner,
 Second Place
 Poetry Ages 11-14 Category

A Tree with the Name Hope (Save Wetland Poem)
 A tree is like a house
 it provides shelter,
 and shade to a creature
 like a mouse

A plant is a pie,
 to us a pie is a tasty treat
 but to an animal
 a plant is what they want to eat.

A tree is like a breathing tool,
 plants from a Lily flower to a toad stool.

Trees give off a thing called 02,
 outdoor plants these days have a lot to go through.

To help
 all we really need to do
 is support all the wetlands
 me and you

To help the wetlands
 all around
 plant some tree buffers
 and put more plants in the ground.

Plants and trees need saving please.
 By helping wetlands
 you also help set them at ease.

Amy Meier,
 Honourable Mention,
 Poetry Ages 11-14 Category

A Watershed Poem
 Watersheds. there are many
 They’re for field trips and for family
 Areas of conservation
 also outdoor recreation
 Rivers and wetlands
 Really, they’re Nature’s hands
 Holes made by bunnies
 Bees that make honey
 Many trees, lots of fish
 Deer and moose
 Ducks and geese
 The turtles and squirrels
 Don’t forget frogs
 or the groundhogs
 There are toads
 and loads
 Of animals that live
 But only if you decide to give
 If you do right
 They won’t have to fight
 They have nothing to do
 Because of you
 Now you must change what you’ve done
 Now they have no reason to run
 And when it’s all better
 The place will be wetter
 It really will not be dead
 It’ll be a great watershed

Tiffany Towns,
 First Place,
 Essay Ages 11-14 Category

The Watershed
 Hi! My name is Tiffany Towns and I am writing to tell you how we can make the watersheds better.
 Last year my class and I went to the wetlands behind our school and we learned about the watershed and all the animals that live in it. It was amazing to see how lucky that wetland area was, because you could never see a speck of garbage in that water or even around it. But that is the thing! Not all watersheds are lucky, because people like to litter and when people litter the wind likes to bring the garbage to water like ponds, rivers, beaches, seas, oceans, or watersheds.
 When you see the water, in any area, full of garbage it makes you think, “Where did the beautiful water go?” And people would stop swimming in the water because it is dirty. The animals would die from drinking the water. Everyone would forget about the ponds, rivers, beaches, seas, oceans, and watersheds. Then, water treatment plants would shut down because there wouldn’t be any water left to clean for us to drink.
 Then we would slowly die off.
 So we need to keep our wetlands.
 They help to keep our water clean! 
 * * *
 I am writing to tell you about the magic of the wetlands.
 I believe that the world needs to know about the magic of the wetlands because I think that people are killing our wetlands to make room for malls.
 There is a reason why environmentalists have left these wetlands alone and I am here to tell you why. So pay attention.
 Did you know that when you go to a wetland and think of how sacred the wetland is, you will feel the magic of this place?
 See the animals running free and the water crystal clear!
 When you see the beauty of the leaves deciding to change colour, or deciding when to fall from the tree, you will see the beauty of the magical wetlands.
 It is amazing how everything there makes their own decisions.
 All the different colours, smells, and sounds prove to me that it is not a dream.
 Now picture all the magic gone because people decided to bulldoze it down to make room for a mall.
 Nature lovers like myself want to show the owners of the malls that protecting our wetlands is a better way to use the land than building more malls.
 Keep the magic of our wetlands.
 We need to protect them before it’s too late.

Kris Huber,
 Second Place, Essay Ages 11-14 Category

Watershed Story
 Dear reader,
 I think you should donate money to St. Joseph’s School, Clinton, to plant trees around our watershed.
 I think you should do this because we need to protect the wetland from being plowed under.
 Another reason we should plant trees is because we need a buffer from chemicals coming into the wetland.
 Another reason is because we need to keep the air and the watershed clean so all the animals can breathe clean air and the wetland can have clean air for anyone who enters.
 So please help us make our watershed better by donating money for our school, St. Joseph’s.

Fiona Brands,
 Dana Wilson,
 And Ashley Whelan
 First Place,
 Short Story 5-10 Category

A Lesson Learned by Moonlight
 A full moon shone down on Jimmy and Steve as they went for a walk along the Bayfield River. As they walked, Jimmy drank from a can of soda. When he had finished his last sip he threw the can into the water.
 Out jumped a raccoon. It startled the boys but it surprised them even more when it started to talk.
“Hello,” the raccoon said, in a spooky voice. After the animal spoke, a fox scurried up and a turtle emerged from the moonlight. Jimmy and Steve were confused by and curious about what they were seeing.
“Why did you throw a can into our house?” said the turtle, slowly.
 The fox added quickly, “How would you like it if we put garbage in your house?”
 “I don’t think I would like that,” said Steve. Jimmy waded into the water and fished the pop can out. The boys apologized for their thoughtless behavior.
 From then on the boys always respected other creatures’ homes but they never went walking along the Bayfield River during a full moon again.

Raven Blyde,
 Julie Chun,
 And Melanie Wilson
 Second Place,
 Short Story 5-10 Category

From Trash to Tadpoles
 Once upon a time there was a girl named Julie.
 She went to look for tadpoles in the shallows of the Bayfield River. Instead she found trash! There were pop cans, water bottles, Styrofoam cups and plastic bags everywhere! She felt depressed because the trash was harming the natural habitat of the animals.
 She called her fellow Girl Guides Raven and Melanie, and her leaders, Tawny Owl and Emerald. They were very angry about the trash. They picked it all up and threw it in the recycling. They made signs that said, ‘Do not litter’ and put blue boxes beside them and placed a safe distance away from the water’s edge.
 In a couple of weeks, Julie and friends, returned. Julie finally got to see the tadpoles. She was happy. She came back every day to see them until they turned into frogs.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation recognizes winning entries from students:
This is just one way young people are involved in shaping the watershed future

A panel of judges included people from the literary world, the environmental sector, and the watershed community’s Conservation Strategy Development Team.