Sibley student wins coin contest

Published 11:30 am Friday, May 28, 2010

For the past six years, the Lakes Foundation of Albert Lea has sponsored a contest aimed at creating community support for the lakes.

Through the creation of a commemorative coin, members of the community both young and old have had the opportunity to illustrate something meaningful to them about area lakes on the front side of the coin each year. The back side features the Lakes Foundation logo.

Every two years, community members design the coin face, and then every third year, the task is left up to a student. This was a year for student designs.

Email newsletter signup

Laura Lunde, vice chairwoman of the Lakes Foundation, said the foundation received at least a couple hundred entries from Albert Lea elementary school students for the 2010 coin.

The winning design was from 12-year-old Tanner Alfson, a Sibley Elementary School student, who drew a goose in flight surrounded by the words “Make Way for Wildlife; Protect Albert Lea Lakes.”

Alfson said he created the drawing in his art class at school under the direction of teacher Mark Blong.

“I am excited that my drawing is going to be on a coin,” the boy said.

Blong said he saw the notice from the Lakes Foundation about the contest and encouraged his students to participate. They had been working on wildlife and duck stamp art, and he had talked to them about environmentalism a bit.

“It’s just a good thing and a good cause for Albert Lea to think about,” Blong said.

He noted that Alfson’s design had a good composition and use of space.

While anyone can purchase a bronze commemorative coin for $25, there are also three special silver coins minted — one for the artist, one for the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, and a last one to be auctioned off at the organization’s Party for the Lakes.

This year’s Party for the Lakes is scheduled for Aug. 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the main pavilion at Edgewater Park. At the party, Alfson will be recognized for his design, and there will be live music, food, beverages and prizes at the main pavilion at Edgewater Park.

“It’s great to get the community involved in creating these coins, especially the youth,” said Dave Villarreal, president of the Fountain Lake Sportsmen’s Club and member of the Lakes Foundation. “Ultimately, the sales of these coins goes back into the community.”

Lunde said the Lakes Foundation began in 1934 after Albert Lea Lake caught fire because of the toxic waste that was dumped in the lake. At that time, the group was called the Lakes Restoration Committee, with a primary focus of cleaning and restoring the water quality and lake shore.

Its focus has shifted slightly in that now it aims to promote the lakes and get people to use them.

She said the Lakes Foundation has been instrumental in getting the Shell Rock River Watershed District started in the area and supporting education opportunities that involve the lakes.

Recently, the organization has supported the community Brookside Boathouse and Experiential Learning Center, the junior high Water Table Education program and the Take A Kid Fishing Day.

The organization is open to anyone interested in promoting recreation on the lake, as well as preservation, she added.

“If someone feels passionate about it then it would be a great group to join,” Lunde said.

People who are interested in purchasing the coin or becoming part of the foundation can contact Katie Liska at 383-4557. All money raised goes to support area lakes projects.