2017 Educator of the Year

“It’s clear, from reading her student’s essays each year, that Ms. Petka continues to pass on her knowledge and passion for aquatic conservation to her students. She also dedicates a substantial amount of time to organizing and submitting hundreds of student contest entries each year.” – Marion Baker, Georgia State-Fish Art Coordinator

Kathleen Sneed Petka, Ed.S.

Visual Art Teacher | Walton High School | Marietta, Georgia 30062

I am deeply humbled and honored by being Wildlife Forever’s 2017 Educator of the Year. Participating in this contest annually and promoting the conservation message to all of my students is extremely important to me because my students are made aware of the positive impact they can make on our environment. They are also encouraged to promote and share what they learn with each other through in-class critiques.


I feel a sense of accomplishment each year after my students share their beautiful compositions with each other while teaching their peers about the many species of fish, their environments, and how pollution can negatively affect and endanger wildlife. Along with the gorgeous visual imagery, I also enjoy reading my students’ beautifully written essays and poems.


I am always impressed by the sheer talent of my students. It is fun to see how creative they can be with the same theme. No two works are the same. I feel it is our job to teach our students the importance of conservation and to encourage them to care and be more mindful of our earth.


This contest is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn, care, share, teach, and create! They take ownership of their works and get to select the state fish of their desire, write with meaning, create art with a message, and they get to share their works-all while learning how important it is to be mindful of our environment. They are also respectful of each other when we critique. The nice thing about this contest is that different subject areas and students from all grade levels can participate. It works with art, English, and science classes.