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News Release

June 10, 2011      

For Further Information Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

Local Student Wins National “Fight The Bite” Poster Contest
LaGrange Middle School 6th Grader’s Artwork to be signage in County Parks

Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus congratulates Matthew Hayes, a 6th grade student at LaGrange Middle School, for being named as the New York State winner of the nationwide Fight the Bite Poster Contest.   During a school assembly held this morning, County Executive Steinhaus announced Mr. Hayes’ winning artwork would be featured at Dutchess County Parks to help educate park visitors about the best ways to prevent mosquito and tick borne diseases.

Fight the Bite Poster Contest Winner, Matthew Hayes“Matt has created a great educational tool to help educate others about the importance of protecting ourselves against Lyme disease and other mosquito or tick-borne diseases,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “We are thrilled that our local students participated in this contest and are helping us to get the message out about how we can prevent  mosquito and tick-borne illness.”

The annual Fight the Bight Poster Contest is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the DEET Education Program.   It is open to all fifth and sixth graders across the nation and is designed as a fun and creative way for students to learn more about the importance of using repellent while outdoors to protect themselves and their families from diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks, including Lyme disease.   Each year, the Dutchess County Department of Health reaches out to local school superintendents to encourage students to participate in the contest and use the opportunity to continue to teach students about preventing tick-borne diseases.     This is the second consecutive year a Dutchess County student has been named as a New York State winner.    Last year, a student from Hagan Elementary School and a student from Rombout Middle School were the two New York State winners.

Dutchess County Legislator for LaGrange and 8th grade teacher at LaGrange Middle School, Donna Bolner, joined County Executive Steinhaus for the award presentation.   “Congratulations to Matt on this impressive accomplishment!   His artwork will help us spread the word about how people can protect themselves against tick-borne diseases.” Legislator Bolner also serves as the Chairperson for the Dutchess County Legislature’s Tick Task Force Committee.

As a winner for New York State, Mr. Hayes will receive a $50 U.S. Savings Bond and an award certificate. Winning posters are used for educational outreach and public service materials nationwide.   Locally, the winning artwork will be incorporated into educational signage to be displayed at following Dutchess County parks:

  • Bowdoin Park
  • Dutchess Rail Trail
  • Harlem Valley Rail Trail
  • Quiet Cove Riverfront Park
  • Wilcox Park

In Dutchess County, more than 1100 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year.    Other tick-borne diseases such as babeosis and anaplasmosis are also on the rise.

Dutchess County Department of Health’s "Be Tick Free" outreach campaign provides important tips to prevent the spread of Lyme Disease.   One of the "Be Tick Free" outreach campaign elements is the Tick Smart Program for Dutchess County elementary school teachers and health teachers that features "Tick-Check Harry," a sheep dog stuffed-animal with seeds hidden in his fur.  Children learn about how to prevent Lyme disease by doing a "tick check" and find the "ticks" on Harry.

More information about diseases from mosquito and tick bites, repellent use and other prevention strategies can be found at

Artwork by Matthew Hayes image

Winning Artwork by Matthew Hayes

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County Executive

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