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Local student wins Ga. forestry contest

Eric Riggs and SEBHS awarded $35,000 in cash and prizes

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Posted: July 3, 2014 8:24 p.m.
Updated: July 6, 2014 10:33 p.m.
Local student wins Ga. forestry contest

Southeast Bulloch High School art teacher Rachel Jackson, left, and winning artist Eric Riggs, center, are presented with a ceremonial check for $35,000 by Georgia Forestry Foundation Chairwoman Jody Strickland.

         Eric Riggs, a rising 10th-grade student at Southeast Bulloch High School, was selected as the winner of the Georgia Forestry Foundation’s 2014 "Forestry: A Foundation for Our Future" artwork and slogan contest in the ninth–12th grade category.  GFF awarded Riggs and SEBHS a prize package valued at $35,000. More than 1,000 students statewide participated, and Riggs’ artwork was selected from 56 entries that were chosen to be judged.
         Representatives from the GFF, including foundation Chairwoman Jody Strickland, contest committee Chairwoman Wanda Barrs and several local and state leaders in the state’s forestry industry, hosted a reception in Statesboro to honor Riggs and SEBHS faculty prior to the Bulloch County Board of Education’s meeting on June 12. During the meeting, Barrs presented Riggs a ceremonial check for the prize package’s total amount, which includes $2,500 for Riggs and  $15,000 for SEBHS. 
         "I was dedicated to this project," Riggs said.  "I have an interest in art and nature."
         The remaining prizes include a forestry camp scholarship for Riggs, Project Learning Tree environmental professional development opportunities for up to 20 SEBHS teachers, an invitation to attend the Georgia Teacher Conservation Workshop for two teachers, a field trip for students in Riggs’ grade level, imprinted materials featuring Riggs’ winning artwork and slogan and other educational prizes.
         "We are very proud of Eric and his art teacher, Rachel Jackson, for bringing this honor to Southeast Bulloch," Clifton said. "All of the school’s $15,000 will be going to the art program."
         Jackson noted that she plans to purchase a potter’s wheel, art display boards and other items to enhance the school’s program. 
         "I almost forgot to mail his entry, but I’m glad I didn’t," said Jackson, who also serves as a track and field coach for SEBHS and was preparing for the state track meet at the same time the entries were due.
         Riggs, his parents and two SEBHS faculty members have been invited, all expenses paid, to attend an awards ceremony on Sunday, July 20, at the Georgia Forestry Association’s Annual Conference on Hilton Head Island. Phillip and Felice Riggs and Eric’s twin sister, Ashleigh, are all very proud of his accomplishment. 
         "I never saw the final artwork until it was posted on the Internet," Eric’s mom, Felice Riggs, said.
"He bunkered down at our dining room table during his entire spring break and worked on it."
         According to a press release from GFF, the organization launched the contest and education initiative this year with the goal of creating greater awareness of the economic, environmental and social benefits of Georgia’s working forests. This year’s event featured two age divisions: fifth–eighth grade and ninth–12th grade. Leah Caitlin Geiger of Tallulah Falls School was selected as the winner for the middle-grades category. 
         Geiger’s and Riggs’ artwork and slogans are featured on the GFF website at Riggs’ slogan was “Forests: Giving us the tools to create our future.” 

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