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Kids encouraged to 'Plug into Nature'

Kids encouraged to 'Plug into Nature'

(WXIA) -- The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has brought back its Give Wildlife a Chance Poster Contest for 2014.

This year's theme is Plug into Nature, emphasizing the importance of experiencing wildlife and plants firsthand.

All Georgia students in grades kindergarten through 5 are invited to enter the contest. The top 12 winners' posters will be displayed on the DNR's Flickr site and at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry during the first two weeks in May.

Contest entries are due Apr. 16. Three winners will be picked in four categories (kindergarten, grades 1-2, grades 3-4, grade 5).

Visit georgiawildlife.com for more information about the contest.

GEMA: Georgians should prepare as hurricane season hurries in

GEMA: Georgians should prepare as hurricane season hurries in

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Emergency Management Agency stresses the importance of safety just before Hurricane Preparedness Week hits. 

During the week, May 26 - June 1, education will be offered to all residents through Georgia who plan to camp outdoors, throw cookouts and spend time at the lakes or in the backyard. Severe weather can make its way here anytime, a Ready Georgia spokeswoman said, which puts Georgians at risk statewide.

15 counties must clean their air

15 counties must clean their air

ATLANTA -- Air Quality Awareness Week recently came to a close, and 15 metro Atlanta counties didn't quite make the clean air cut.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently changed its standards of attainment for ozone standards from .08 parts per billion to .075 parts.

The change means that 15 formerly compliant counties were re-designated at nonattainment for ground-level ozone: Bartow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton, Paulding and Rockdale.

To clean up the air, residents can try carpooling to work or taking MARTA if possible; fewer cars on the roads means more breathable air for everyone in metro Atlanta.

Learn more about how to reduce emissions and cut down on ozone at www.cleanaircampaign.org.

PAULDING | Group aims to protect creek

PAULDING | Group aims to protect creek

ATLANTA -- Federal wildlife officials say they're working with several agencies to restore a northwest Georgia creek they say is critical to the long-term survival of several types of fish and aquatic life.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement the Raccoon Creek project is among 12 Aquatic Habitat Restoration Projects across the Southeast U.S. involving the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership.

The creek flows through Paulding County. Federal officials say agriculture and land clearing for development have degraded parts of the creek, making it more difficult for fish to survive.

The partnership of government agencies has worked to establish a forested stream buffer and stabilize eroding stream banks. The group is monitoring the changes in the water and habitat quality, and numbers and types of fish.

CTC instructor named 'green' Educator of the Year

CTC instructor named 'green' Educator of the Year

ACWORTH, Ga. -- A horticulture instructor at Chattahoochee Technical College has been named the 2012 Georgia Green Industry Association Educator of the Year.

John Hatfield teaches at the school's North Metro Campus in Acworth.

"I went into education to try to make a difference," Hatfield said. "I wasn't always a big fan of school when I went through it. I said if I ever got the chance to teach, I would try to do it differently. I think I've done my best to make that happen."

Hatfield began teaching at CTC in 1995. He attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, the school where his parents met ("It was just understood that I would go there," he said), before earning a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia and starting his own landscape design business. He returned to UGA for the graduate degree that would allow him to teach.

Drought spreads into North Georgia

Drought spreads into North Georgia

ATLANTA -- Georgia's state climatologist says extreme drought conditions have now spread into North Georgia and cover most of the state south of the mountains.

Climatologist David Stooksbury says all of Georgia's counties are now classified as being in moderate, severe or extreme drought.

In his most recent reports on the drought, Stooksbury said the outlook for relief in the short-term is not promising. Unless Georgia sees some tropical weather over the next few months, the state can expect below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures.

Without tropical rain, Georgia's soil is expected to continue to dry out. Stream flows, groundwater levels and reservoir levels are expected to continue to drop, and wildfire potentials are expected to remain high to extreme.

Droughts signals bad news for peanut butter lovers

Droughts signals bad news for peanut butter lovers

ATLANTA -- It's been 30 years since so few acres of peanuts were planted in Georgia.

The shortage and ongoing drought are bringing higher prices for peanuts and their favorite cousin -- peanut butter.

The acreage is down because farmers chose to plant cotton, which was commanding higher prices. It was thought plenty of peanuts would still be available, but many of the plants have not come out of the ground due to drought.

The situation has peanut butter manufacturers bracing for tighter supplies, according to Don Koehler with the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Georgia is the nation's largest producer of peanuts, producing 46 percent of U.S. peanuts.