Vermillion students place in SDSU poetry contest Vermillion high school student Mackenzie Stone and middle school student Sarah Johnson have been honored in the sixth annual Jerome Norgren Poetry Writing Contest at South Dakota State University. Under the direction of English teacher Cindy Heckenlaible, Stone was awarded Honorable Mention for her poem My Blood. With the help of middle school English teacher Suzanne Johnson, Sarah Johnson received Honorable Mentions for her poem Why My Homework is Missing. The 2009 Norgren Poetry Contest attracted over 700 entries from 32 South Dakota communities. The contest offered two categories: "Nature," wherein the poems could be any style on a subject inspired by the natural world; and "Open," wherein the poems could be on any subject, but had to be in free verse or a traditional form. The top three students in each category received cash prizes. The contest was open to middle school and high school students in South Dakota. The Norgren Poetry Contest is administered and judged by Christine Stewart-Nuñez, a South Dakota State University assistant professor of English and the creative writing coordinator, with the assistance of the SDSU English Department. This year's winners were honored at the 2009 Great Plains Writers' Conference on Monday, March 23. They read their poems at a program in the Student Union on the SDSU campus. The Norgren Poetry Writing Contest was created from a gift from the estate of a Lake County farmer. The SDSU Foundation received $230,000 from the estate of the late Jerome "Jerry" Norgren to create three endowments, each reflecting an interest of Norgren's. Norgren scholarship programs were created for soil conservation in plant science/agronomy and for water and wildlife conservation in wildlife and fisheries sciences. A third endowment established the poetry contest for middle and high school students in South Dakota. Norgren was born in Centerville in 1903. His family settled in McCook County and in 1942 moved to a farm in Orland Township, Lake County. Norgren farmed in Orland Township most of his life, until moving to Madison to live with his sister, Carolyn. Norgren died in 1998 at the age of 95. During his lifetime, he was an avid conservationist, gardener and keeper of honeybees. He was also a poet-philosopher who enjoyed writing on the quandaries of nature, life, death and humanity itself. For more information, call the SDSU Foundation at (605) 697-7475.