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Elementary ag essay winners announced

Delmar Ficek was beaming with pride Wednesday as he strolled through the halls of Berg Elementary in Dickinson and helped announce the winners of an agriculture essay contest, put on by the Dickinson Area Chamber Agriculture Committee and Stark County Farm Bureau.

Chamber and Bureau representatives walked alongside Ficek and helped announce one winning writer from each of the school's eight classrooms.

One of Berg's selected writers was Morgan Kainz, who wrote about how agriculture affects hunting and the food she eats. She was thrilled to receive the award.

"It's awesome," she said.

Ficek said for the past 25 years, area sixth-graders' essays have been judged for content, organization, spelling and penmanship. Ficek added that he is happy to see the program is still going strong.

"The students are just great writers," Ficek said, adding that it is impressive to see the care and creativity area youth put into their papers in a time when there are "less farm kids out there."

Ficek said many schools have stopped providing classes based strictly on agriculture, and

the subject is now taught mostly "through economics or


Nowadays, not many hands shoot up when Ficek asks which students have farming backgrounds, but he said most kids have some connection to agriculture. He also said maintaining agriculture appreciation is why he helped organize the essay contest about 25 years ago.

"We just like to keep pride in our agriculture," he said. "We feel that this is an agriculture community."

A total of 14 classrooms participated in this year's contest, Chamber Agriculture Committee member Mike Renner said. Sixth-graders in Stark County and Billings County take part in the contest, he added.

Receiving first place and $300 in cash for this year's essay contest was Katelyn Hellman, who attends Dickinson's Trinity Elementary East. Following in second place and receiving $200 was Brayden Obritsch, a student at Prairie Elementary in Fairfield. Hope Christian Academy student Amy Wegner placed third and received $100.

The 2012 contest was part of Farm Bureau Week in March, during which students read their essays on air at Dickinson's KDIX radio station.

Renner said the essay is a great way for area students

to expand their view on


"(The essay) gives sixth-grade students the opportunity to think about and express what agriculture does for them, and hopefully gives them a little better understanding with that thought process about why agriculture is important, not only here in our area where there's a lot of agriculture, but as far as everybody else around the country, or even around the world," he said.

Renner added that Ficek deserves most of the credit for being "the brains" behind the contest.

Deferring all praise to participating students, Ficek congratulates the young writers for their hard work. He also believes the research and insight students put into their papers helps remind people of the impact agriculture has in North Dakota.

"Agriculture will always be with us," he said.