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MNW student’s artwork recognized by state

Birkey’s art part of an show in Okoboji this summer

March 22, 2010
By EMILIE NELSON, Messenger staff writer

BARNUM - A Barnum girl's creativity and love for art landed her among the best young artists in Iowa.

Seven-year-old Emma Birkey, a student in Annie Schreier's second grade class at Manson Northwest Webster Elementary School, was recently notified that the poster she created in art class was selected to be part of a traveling art show sponsored by the University of Northern Iowa's Center for Environmental Education.

More than 1,700 students in first through sixth grades across the state entered the competition, which was themed around creating posters to teach people how to be smart consumers of energy. Birkey's artwork was one of just 12 entries to be selected for the show.

Article Photos

Emma Birkey, 7, of Barnum, shows off some of her artwork recently. Some of her artwork was one of 12 posters out of nearly 1,700 entries to be selected for a traveling art show sponsored by the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Environmental Education. Birkey will be honored at a reception and awards ceremony at the State Capitol Building Wednesday.

Birkey created her poster, which featured a snowman turning down a thermostat, as part of a December project in Karen Skophammer's art class at the MNW Elementary School, her mother, Jennifer Birkey, said.

"She was saying the morning that she won that maybe some of her artwork could win a poster contest, and we got a call that same afternoon that she had won," Jennifer Birkey said.

Emma Birkey is a busy student, active with Girl Scouts and playing summer T-ball and flag football. One of her favorite classes in school, she says, is guided reading, but art has always been something she has really loved.

"I like playing with clay and drawing," she said.

And art is an activity her mother gladly supports.

"I'll spend the money on the crayons and paper, our girls could sit for hours and just draw pictures," Jennifer Birkey said. "Emma's always had a flair for creativity."

Jennifer Birkey said the opportunity for students to participate in special projects such as the contest her daughter won is also a testament for keeping the fine arts in schools.

"The fine arts are a big boost for students," she said.

Emma Birkey was quick to agree.

"Art is a big boost for me," she said.

Birkey will be recognized along with the 11 other student artists at an awards ceremony and reception at the State Capitol Building Wednesday afternoon. She will meet Gov. Chet Culver and get a special private tour of the capitol. The prize was also complete with a $150 savings bond.

The artwork will also be on display in an art show in Okoboji this summer.

Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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