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January 10, 2006

Jennifer Fennell or
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

2006 Hazardous Weather Awareness Week Short Essay Contest Announced
First-ever essay contest encourages high school students throughout the state to share past hurricane season experiences

TALLAHASSEE — Just Read, Florida!, in partnership with the Florida Department of Community Affairs, Division of Emergency Management and several other emergency management partners, is conducting a statewide short essay contest aimed at high school students as part of the 2006 Hazardous Weather Awareness Week, February 12 through 18. Participants must answer in short essay form the question, "What impact has someone from Florida had on my life during the 2004 or 2005 hurricane season?"

"Florida's students are all too familiar with the havoc hurricanes can wreak," said K-12 Public School Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke. "This contest urges students to express themselves and identify a person who made an impact on their life during a difficult time."

Ninth through twelfth graders in all school districts are invited to participate in the contest. The seven winners and their teacher, selected from each of the seven emergency management areas in the state, will win cash prizes, gift certificates and weather radios. The grand prize winning student and teacher will receive additional cash prizes and gift certificates. Awards will be presented during the annual award ceremony held in the Capitol Rotunda at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, February 13, 2006.

"One of the goals of Hazardous Weather Awareness Week is to promote a culture of preparedness throughout all grade levels," said State Meteorologist Ben Nelson with the Division of Emergency Management. "We encourage high school students to enter this inaugural contest and share their unique experiences from the last two record-setting hurricane seasons.

The essay contest is part of an annual public awareness campaign that includes distribution of the "Florida Hazardous Weather Guide" to middle school classrooms, children's books in elementary school classrooms, and a poster contest for fourth and fifth graders. Also a part of the campaign is the statewide "Tornado Drill" to be conducted on Wednesday, February 15, 2006, by the Florida offices of the National Weather Service.

Essays must be electronically submitted via website to no later than 11:59 p.m., Friday, February 3, 2006. Winners will be notified by phone no later than 12:00 p.m. February 10, 2006.

Sponsors and partners include the Florida Association of Broadcasters, Inc., the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association, Florida Newspapers in Education, and the Florida Insurance Education Coordinators, Inc. For a full listing of all sponsors and partners please visit

For more information and a complete list of contest rules and requirements, please visit: or