Ava Lemoine among big winners in Youth Journalism Contest _lowres

Photo provided by Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association This photo of fishermen on a pier at dusk captured by Ava Lemoine was judged first place in this year's Youth Jourmalism Contest.. Lemoine, a 9-year-old St. Aloysius Catholic School student from Baton Rouge, finished third in the 2013 contest's Photo Category. Lemoine, along with four other young photographers and five young writers each in Senior Essay and Junior Essay categories, were honored Saturday night in Houma during the annual Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association awards banquet. The three divisions attracted more than 70 entries from all corners of the state. Louisiana members of Safari Club International, The Advocate and LOWA sponsored the long-standing annual youth writing/photography contest.

After successive top finishes, 9-year-old Ava Lemoine has established her name among the top young south Louisiana photographers.

The St. Aloysius Elementary student placed among the top five in the judging for 2012 and 2013 statewide Youth Journalism contests and backed that up with the winning entry in this year’s YJC with a photograph of fishermen on a dock near sunset.

Lemoine was among 14 young men and women honored Saturday night in Houma during the annual Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association’s awards banquet that also honored the state’s Youth Hunters of the Year, and men in rod-and-reel and fly-fishing categories for LOWA’s 2013 Fish of the Year.

Lemoine wasn’t the only one making repeat trips to the awards banquet.

James “Scooter’ Hayes, a 10-year-old from Mansura, was the 2011 Youth Hunter of the Year and followed that up by finishing second in the 2013 judging from among 22 entries in the Junior Essay category.

Kenny Odinet, 15, of Lafayette, backed up his placing in the 2013 contest with a third-place award in this year’s 24-entry Senior Essay category.

Odinet’s brother, 12-year-old Eli, was among the Junior Essay winners.

And St. Francisville 17-year-old Averi Young, who placed in Senior Essay last year, was fifth this year in the same category, while Kyla D’Arensbourg followed her top-four finish in 2013, by placing fourth in the Photography category.

Baton Rouge student Alex Kershaw followed his 2013 fourth-place finish in Photography with a third-place spot this year.

James Sanders, a 9-year-old Fellowship Elementary student from Trout, a community near Jena, accomplished a rare feat among the 15 young honorees when he won the Junior Essay and finished second in Photography. Sanders described a fishing trip with his grandfather and his battle with a 12-pound catfish.

The last paragraph from Sanders’ entry read: “My Grandpa said we were very lucky to live in an area where we could see such beautiful scenery and wild animals and still be able to catch some fish for supper. I agreed. No one can really understand how wonderful the river is until they experience it for themselves.”

Brock Blackwell, the 16-year-old Cedar Creek Academy student from Arcadia, won in Senior Essay for a piece titled, “The Buck Above My Bed.”

Blackwell ended his story: “Deer seasons come and go. Some are successful, others not so much. Still, the nine-point is fixed on my wall, is a monument to my greatest kill. One day my children will ask about each head that hangs in my house, just as I have asked my father. I will tell them many stories: stories about my first deer, my first buck, and the biggest buck I’ve ever killed. But the nine-point will be my greatest, the first true testament to my skill as a hunter.”

This year’s winners also included Ajay Walker Tew, who, at 8 is among the youngest-ever Junior Essay finalists.

The complete list of Youth Journalism Contest, Photography winners in order of judging included:

Lemoine, Sanders, Kershaw, D’Arensbourg and Baton Rouge area young photographer Trey Spears.

The Senior Essay list and essay titles included:

Blackwell, “The Buck Above My Bed;” 15-year-old Jesuit High student Matthew McMahon from River Ridge, “Bow Hunting: A Wait That Was Worth It;” Kenny Odinet, “School’s Out;” 16-year-old Erath High student Malory Savoie from Abbeville, “Caddo Lake;” and, Young, “The Bow Hunt.”

Junior Essay winners and essay titles included:

Sanders, “Little River, Big Fish;” Hayes, “From Baby Bottles to Busting Big Gators;” Reese Blakeley, a 13-year-old Blue Pine Academy student from Leesville, “It Was Big Enough;” Ajay Walker Tew, a Cedar Creek Academy student from Jonesboro, “Lots of Mean Geese;” and, Eli Odinet, 12, BG Country Day School in Lafayette, “Nothing Better than a Limit.”

All youngsters received cash prizes from Louisiana members of the Safari Club International. LOWA, General Motors and The Advocate also sponsor the contest.