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THESE STUDENTS' ART ISN'T FOR ART'S SAKE

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May 29, 2001 – Student art and poetry contests are nothing new, but the one coming up Saturday at the Coral World Marine Park is.
Visual and literary images created in celebration of nature's all-purpose tropical support system will be judged, with the winners' works to be sent on to international competition.
And what might that system be? The mangrove, of course.
Mangroves, a Coral World release about the competition notes, provide a nursery for fish, crustaceans and shellfish; a rookery for coastal birds such as brown pelicans and egrets; and continuous filtration of sediment run-off from the land, keeping the island waters and reefs crystal clear.
On Saturday, Coral World visitors will be able to see and hear what students from J. Antonio Jarvis Elementary School, Sts. Peter and Paul School and two classes at the V.I. Montessori School thought about that.
For its 10th anniversary outreach effort, the Mangrove Action Project challenged youngsters ages 5 to 13 in the tropical and subtropical nations and territories of the world to create a poem or work of art showing "why mangroves are important to me and my community."
This International Children's Art and Poetry Competition was conceived to accomplish two objectives, the release states: First, to raise young people's awareness of the importance of mangroves; and second, to communicate to a worldwide audience "what is so fresh and natural" to the youngsters. The international winners’ work will be published in a 2002 calendar slated for international distribution.
To meet the requirements for participation by local youngsters in the Mangrove Action Project, Donna Griffin, education specialist for the Planning and Natural Resources Department's Division of Fish and Wildlife, made presentations on the mangrove ecosystem in classrooms and provided materials for teachers to create a mangrove lesson plan. Meantime, Donna Nemeth, curator of Coral World, set up a program at the marine park giving school groups free admission and an orientation to mangroves by a resident aquarist.
All schools were encouraged to promote the art and poetry contest. The young artists could work in pencil, ink, collage, pastel, wax or other mediums. The young authors were confined to 10 lines. Judging all the creative output on Saturday will be Doreen Walsh, painter and batik artist, of the St. Thomas-St. John Arts Council. The top three winners in each category will receive a certificate and a calendar, as will their school, with their works to be submitted to the U.S. office of the Mangrove Action Group for the international judging.
The Mangrove Action Project is supported by non-governmental organizations, scientists and academics in 60 nations. Its mission is to serve as a mangrove information clearinghouse; to foster public awareness of the importance of mangroves and the devastating effects of their loss; to develop financial and technical support for projects to save the mangroves; and to publicize the pressure on farmers and fishers in underdeveloped countries to harvest aquatic delicacies for marketing to wealthy nations at the cost of the environment.
For further information about Saturday's competition, telephone 775-1555, ext. 249, or e-mail to coralworldvi.com.

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