ST. JAMES—Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District (ORSWMD) announced that four Maries County students were honored with second place awards and honorable mentions in the 33rd Annual Earth Day Poster, Trash and Graphic Art contest. This year’s contest theme was “Plastic vs. Planet.”

Winners from Maries County were:

  • Ava Kloeppel, 11th grade, Vienna High School, Second Place Trash Art;
  • Jase Nevills, 8th grade, homeschool, Honorable Mention Trash Art;
  • Lilliana Willen, 5th grade, Bland Middle School, Honorable Mention Poster Art; and
  • Adelyn Hopkins, 3rd grade, Belle Elementary, Honorable Mention Poster Art.

Maries County R-2 students were under the direction of Gifted teacher Carole Moore and Maries County R-1 students were under the direction of Lesley Cremer.

“The Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District Earth Day Art Contest is in its 33rd year,” said Kathryn Hawes, environmental specialist. “We were thrilled to see so many entries in all categories including new schools and home school students participating. Artwork was displayed throughout the region’s art galleries, sponsor locations and on display at regional Earth Day celebrations.”

The contest required participants to re-purpose trash into three-dimensional pieces of art or create posters (hand drawn or graphically designed), based on the year’s theme. There were 935 entries from 17 schools in the district and three homeschool groups. The contest was open to kindergarten through 12th grade, homeschool, college and university students who reside or attend school in Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties.

“The Earth Day contest is one of my favorite programs,” said Tammy Snodgrass, MRPC’s environmental program manager. “The projects the kids come up with are so creative. You don’t often think of trash as a medium for artistic expression, but it’s a great way to provide environmental education to our children and increase awareness of solid waste issues.”

“Each year we are blown away by the creativity of the young minds in our region and so thankful that they have a unique way to express themselves and their care for our world,” Hawes said.

A gallery of awarded students art by grade level may be found on our website at The 2024 Earth Day Contest was funded through a ORSWMD grant, made possible through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), along with donations from the following area sponsors: Legends Bank – Belle, Steelville Chamber of Commerce, The Missouri Bank – Hermann, Belgrade State Bank, The Maries County Bank – Vienna, Mid America Bank, DML LLC, Infuze Credit Union, Security Bank of Pulaski County, Phelps County Bank – Rolla, Bank of Crocker and Town & Country Bank.

The Ozark Rivers District includes Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities with populations of 500 or more. Gary Larson, Dent County, chairs the group. The district’s strategy for solid waste reduction, which has been individually adopted by all member governments and approved by Missouri Department of Natural Resources, involves education and increased recycling and waste reduction efforts in member counties and cities. MRPC provides administration of the district and assists with a variety of implementation projects.

For more information about ORSWMD or waste reduction and recycling opportunities in the Ozark Rivers area, contact Tammy Snodgrass, MRPC environmental programs manager, at 573-265-2993 or by email at Also, find us on Facebook at and on the web at MRPC provides the day-to-day administration for Ozark Rivers.

Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. Mary Heywood, representing the unemployed, serves as MRPC chair. A professional staff of 30, led by Executive Director Bonnie Prigge, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.

To keep up with the latest MRPC news and events, visit the MRPC website at or on Facebook at