MILTON — In celebration of Earth Day, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Northwest District held it's fifth Earth Day poster contest, and three Santa Rosa County students won top awards.

Lilli Rowland from Jay Elementary School, Parker Stanley from King Middle, and Madailynn Cengeri from Gulf Breeze Middle were honored as winners for the posters they created representing the importance of protecting Florida’s natural environment and species. 

The DEP's Northwest District invited fourth- through eighth-grade students in the district’s 16-county area to creatively illustrate this year’s contest. Rowland won second place in the elementary division, with Stanly and Cengeri winning first and second place respectively in the middle school division.

DEP Northwest District Director Shawn Hamilton said the theme of the competition was this year was "Protect our Species," and he felt the posters chosen did just that.   

"I think these artists did a fantastic job of capturing so many ways we can protect our environment and its species," Hamilton said.

He said it was an honor to announce the winners, who received a certificate and state park passes.

"It is reassuring to see that Florida’s students are learning so much about ways to protect our environment,” he said.

Posters were judged, Hamilton said, on how well they portrayed the Earth Day theme, as well as artistic merit, originality and neatness.