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Two Pleasant Valley School District sisters earn two awards

  • Jayne Kuehner holds a copy of "PA Wildlife Journal Birds and Mammals," a book just released that contains two drawings she submitted.
    Jayne Kuehner holds a copy of "PA Wildlife Journal Birds and Mammals," a book just released that contains two drawings she submitted.
Published July 12. 2012 05:01PM

Paul and Michelle Kuehner of Kunkletown are very proud of their two daughters, Jayne, 15 and Nicole, 10. They call them their "nature girls." In addition to loving everything to do with nature, each of their daughters recently received special recognition.

Jayne loves to draw and has been doing it since she was old enough to hold a crayon in her hand.

"I've drawn since I could," she says.

In seventh grade at Pleasant Valley Middle School, she learned about a drawing contest from her friend, Krista George and the Ecology Club. It was being sponsored by the York County Conservation District board of directors and financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development and a donation from Spectra Energy, a Texas Eastern Transmission subsidiary.

She entered two drawings, one of a mouse and another of a chickadee. She drew the mouse because she loves mice and the chickadee because her godmother and aunt Shirley Crum loves chickadees.

After a long time had passed, hearing nothing, she was "really surprised" when she received notice a year later that both of her drawings had been selected.

Her reward for submitting her drawings recently came in the mail just a few weeks ago. They are in a beautiful 306-page book titled "PA Wildlife Journal Birds & Mammals" by Kim J. Young in cooperation with the York County Conservation District, of which Young is the education/communications coordinator.

In the introduction of the book, Young explains that she wanted to write a book geared to kids because they love nature. She wanted to provide more than just a reference book. She wanted to create a project that involved as many kids as possible. "I wanted a colorful book with lots of charm." So she appealed to kids all across the state to send in their artwork and photographs.

The completed book is chock full of black and white and color pictures with information of each creature featured. Young informs readers that this is not a field guide but a colorful, regional wildlife book suitable for both young children and adults. She states in the intro, "There are not enough pages in this book and far too many species in Pennsylvania to consider this book anywhere near a complete thesis. Instead, consider this book a wildlife sampler. Enough to whet your appetite. Enough to learn something you didn't perhaps know. They say we only protect that which we know. Will, now you know. We have a wealth of wildlife in our Commonwealth. It needs our protection. Read the book and you can no longer say, 'I didn't know.'"

Jayne is very proud that her artwork is in a published book and her mom and dad are busting with pride and thrilled for her.

"I knew she could do it. I think she's so talented," says Michelle who encourages Jayne to continue drawing, believing she could someday be a professional artist. Jayne has other goals.

"I want to be a writer of stories and songs," she says.

She has been writing poetry and songs since she was 10. "Everybody has a song to sing."

This year her eighth grade social studies teacher offered the students 15 extra credits per marking period for an extra project on something learned in that marking period. Jayne wrote poems and songs about Manifest Destiny, Andrew Jackson, mental illness and Stonewall Jackson. She received three 15s and one 12 for her extra credits.

She loves animals, especially her hamsters, cat, fish and parakeet. She really wants a chihuahua someday.

Jayne and her sister, Nicole, share a love of nature and spend hours walking and playing in the fields and wooded area around their home. One of their shared loves with their Aunt Shirley is Monarch butterflies. For the last several summers, they collect Monarch caterpillars and after they emerge from their chrysalis, the girls release the butterflies, happy that they were able to help them survive.

"The most I collected was 52 last summer," says Jayne.

When she's not helping to save Monarchs, writing or drawing, she likes to talk to her friends on the computer.

Nicole shares a lot of the same interests as her older sister, Jayne, especially nature and saving Monarchs. And she loves school. As a fourth grade student at Polk Elementary School, she received a very pleasant surprise at the awards assembly. Nicole was the recipient of Senator David Argall's Good Citizenship Award for her "display of character, leadership, scholarship and acceptance of responsibility" and recognized as an exemplary citizen.

"I was shocked. I was the last person I thought would get this award. But a lot of kids told me I am a good person. If I see someone sad, I like to help make them feel better," she says.

That need to make others not feel sad may come from her experience of being bullied in kindergarten, an experience that was a difficult time for her.

Her mother says proudly that "Nicole always tries to do her best in everything she does. She's a very good student."

She also won an Art Award at school signed by her art teacher.

"I love to draw," she says

Nicole started playing the clarinet this year and was in the 4th grade band and plans to continue playing in 5th grade.

"Her band teacher, Mr. Bitto, said that Nicole has a natural talent for the clarinet. She plays very well and is always practicing," says proud mama Michelle.

Nicole spends lots of time with her cat, Fuzzy. She enjoys sightseeing, collecting rocks and Bella Sara cards and Briar Horses. She has 27.

"I love horses," she says.

She also trained her hamster, Chipper, to climb stairs, which she says is very hard for hamsters to do.

What would she like to be when she grows up?

"An animal trainer, or an illustrator, or a movie producer," she says with a million dollar smile.

Whatever Nicole and Jayne do in the future, they both agree they want to do it right here because they love living in Kunkletown and the country.

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