Photo courtesy Mark Weprin
By Phil Corso

The Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston welcomed more than 100 local young bird enthusiasts last weekend when District 26 students from kindergarten through sixth-grade attended the 33rd annual Arline Thomas Urban Bird Literary and Arts Contest Awards Ceremony.

Volunteers for Wildlife treated children to a live bird presentation Saturday while bank representatives helped distribute certificates and prizes to winners in the literary and art and craft categories.

City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) presented awards to children who showed extraordinary talent and an in-depth understanding of urban birds.

“I thank APEC for promoting understanding of the environment in Queens,” Weprin said. “It is important to pass this appreciation on to future generations.”

Principals, teachers, students and their families were also there to celebrate at the center, at 228-06 Northern Blvd. Selected winners read their literary pieces to the crowd.

Arline Thomas, the event’s namesake, was a Queens native who dedicated her life to caring for sick and injured urban birds before her death in 1989.

“Her house overflowed with ducks, larks, sparrows, owls and blue birds,” said Karen Pierro, an educator at APEC. “She ultimately became a licensed member of the National Audubon Society’s bird-saving corps and published a number of books.”

The children’s work will be on display at APEC for the next year, Pierro said.

The winners for the Best in Show category were sixth-grader Tara Jackson for literary, sixth-grader Kristine Ang for art and fourth-grader Melanie Guardado for craft.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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