Hot Springs 6th grader wins state’s Arbor Day Essay Contest

Photo by Charity Maness/Fall River County Herald Star

Representatives from Fall River Conservation District, President John Sides, Board member Russ Christensen, District manager Hayley Maurer, State Community Forester Josh Larsen, and Executive Director South Dakota State Association Conservation District Angela Ehlers present a check for $150 to Hot Springs Secondary Principal Kain Klinkhammer and Kadlin Humbracht for the school to use for educational equipment and supplies. Humbracht was also presented a plaque and a check for $125.


Kadlin Humbracht is first statewide winner from Fall River County

By Charity Maness

HOT SPRINGS – Kadlin Humbracht, a 6th grade student in Mrs. Rickenbach’s class, represented Hot Springs with distinction as being the first student from Fall River County to win the South Dakota Arbor Day Essay Contest.

“We are celebrating a student’s achievements today,” said secondary Principal Kain Klinkhammer at an assembly held May 4 in the Case Auditorium to recognize Kadlin.

The essay contest has been held in South Dakota since 1977 with Fall River County having participation records dating back to 1995.

“This is the first time our county has won first place in state as far as our records go,” said Hayley Maurer, District Manager, Fall River Conservation District. 

“We received more than 700 entries this year,” said Angela Ehlers, Executive Director South Dakota State Association Conservation District, and essay judge, “and there was no doubt who would win; Kadlin Humbracht.”

Along with Maurer, Ehlers and Klinkhammer, representatives from the Fall River Conservation District, President John Sides and Board member Russ Christensen, as well as the Western South Dakota Community Forester Josh Larson were present to award Kadlin with a plaque and a check for $125.00.

“I think this is kinda cool,” said Kadlin of her winning. She admits that as she wrote her essay, with guidance from her teacher Mrs. Richenbach, she learned more about conservation and hopes to become more involved in Arbor Day and conservation in the future.

“I think this is awesome,” said Kadlin’s mother Summer Humbracht, “she took it upon herself to do this and we, my husband Brad and I, are super proud of her; super stoked.”

The school was also presented with a check for $125 as Kadlin was the state essay winner, with funds to be put towards purchasing educational equipment or supplies.

In her winning essay Kadlin told of her love for a pine tree she named Leafy when she first arrived in Hot Springs and how that friendship grew.

While not a judge, Maurer enjoyed Kadlin’s work. 

“Reading through it I like how she gave personal experience of her interactions with trees how she enjoys the benefits it gives such as shade, a house for wildlife, scenic interest and a place for enjoyment, such as swinging in her tree swing reading a book,” said Maurer. 

State Community Forester Josh Larsen took the opportunity of an assembly to engage the students in a fun exchange of information. Explaining that though we know trees provide fruit and nuts, they also provide food items less obvious.

“How many of you like cinnamon?” asked Larson. Many student’s hands shot up into the air. “Well, did you know that cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a tree?” He went on to explain other food uses such as cellulose, used both on shredded cheese and saltine crackers.

The students also learned of the native trees of Box Elder and Ponderosa Pine as well as the State tree that can only be found in the Black Hills; the Black Hills Spruce.

Our neighboring state of Nebraska began the Arbor Day tradition in 1872, and that tradition has grown into a nationwide celebration.

“While most holidays celebrate something that has already happened, Arbor Day celebrates a hope for the future,” said Maurer. “The simple act of planting a tree represents a belief that the tree will grow to provide us with clean air and water, cooling shade, habitat for wildlife, protection from weather for livestock, healthier communities, and endless natural beauty – all for a better tomorrow. South Dakota and Fall River County can always benefit from more trees!”

Following is Kadlin Rai Humbracht’s winning Arbor Day Essay

I remember that when my family and I moved to Hot Springs, South Dakota, I befriended a púse trees which I named Leafy. I still don’t know why I named a pine tree Leafy. However, I do know that Leafy became my best friend.

I would take pieces of Leafy’s bark, and I would try to see what they looked like. Some people do the same thing with clouds, but to me, bark was more interesting with its different textures and gradients. Leafy fueled my imagination, but she also towered outside my bedroom, keeping my room cooler in the summertime. Leafy also holds our swing with her strong, dependable branches. After school, I still look forward to getting home and gently swinging while reading a book. From my bedroom window, it is always so peaceful and calming to hear the birds chirping in the morning.

In the spring, you can see all of the nests in Leafy’s secure limbs.

Clearly, Leafy is not just another useless yard ornament. Leafy is a key part of our ecosystem; she houses birds and small animals. She is an energy conserver, my family uses less electricity on air conditioning: and several trees block wind. This is why trees are so important. Let’s not forget that Leafy is only one tree. Think about all of the other trees in the world, and remember everything that they do for us.

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
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