From left, Terry Lewis, vice president, Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association; Catherine Tadlock, essay winner; Judy Spain, contest judge; Vic Spain, past president contest judge.
Catherine Tadlock, an eighth-grader at the Joyce Kilmer Middle School in Vienna, won first place in the Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association (TOGA) Middle School Essay Contest. She received $150, an oyster float, and a TOGA T-shirt and cap, awarded at the annual TOGA membership meeting held at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences in Gloucester Point on Jan. 9.
"This year we had an extremely competitive contest with essays submitted from across the state of Virginia," said Terry Lewis, vice president of TOGA and chairman of the contest. "Catherine should be very proud to receive this award, as should the area community," Lewis said. Catherine's essay was based on her family's involvement with oysters from the early 1920s, when her great-great grandfather began the R.E. Dobyns oyster business in Lancaster County. Her family continued to run the business through World War II, shipping oysters as far as New York City. As Catherine said in her essay, "there's oyster liquor in my blood - it's part of who I will be forever."
Tadlock’s read her essay to more than 125 TOGA members assembled in the auditorium. She was accompanied by her father, teacher, and grandparents Anita and Norman Tadlock, who still grow oysters off their dock on the Corrotoman River in Lancaster County. TOGA is again sponsoring the contest, which is open to all Middle School students in Virginia. The theme of the contest is Consider the Oyster, a wide open subject concerning anything to do with oysters. Prizes for the next contest will be $150, $100, and $50 for the top three essays, plus other oyster gear. More information about the upcoming contest and all the winning essays can be found at www.oystergardeners.org.