Las Vegas Fifth Grader Wins Free Fishing Day Poster Contest

The students of Wright Burnett-Smith, a fifth-grade teacher at the Durango campus of the Amplus Academy in Las Vegas, might have noticed a brief pause in their teacher’s lesson on Monday. You see, it was right in the middle of his morning lessons when he received an email informing him that one of his students, Noel DeVries, had been chosen as the winner of this year’s Nevada Free Fishing Day Poster Contest.

“The message popped up on my watch and it took me a moment to regroup and get back to the lesson,” said Burnett-Smith. “Noel is an awesome student, and I am thrilled that she was recognized.”

The fifth grader from Las Vegas beat out over 300 entries from schools across the state. As the winner, her artwork will be featured on the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Free Fishing Day poster, which is sent to all the schools in the state as well as NDOW offices as a reminder about Free Fishing Day. Her work will also be displayed in the 2025 Nevada Fishing Guide.

“I was pretty surprised when my teacher told me I won,” said DeVries. “I didn’t think I was going to win, but I wanted to really badly!”

          DeVries artwork depicts two friends fishing off the end of a dock with a quote about fishing from Henry David Thoreau. “My brother helped me get the idea for the quote,” she said. “He told me about quotes on the internet and I liked the quote I found because it made me think about people spending time together.”

          While her teacher was excited about the award, he is not surprised by her success. “Noel is one grit filled kid. She is determined, thoughtful and always invested in class”, said Burnett-Smith. “From the start of the school year, it was clear that Noel saw the world through an artistic eye.”

Free Fishing Day will take place on Saturday, June 8. The statewide event allows anglers to fish any public fishing water in the state without a fishing license, while all limits and other regulations apply. Visit to find out more about Free Fishing Day events taking place locally.

          Second place in the contest went to fifth grader Ellie Peixoto from Oasis Academy in Fallon, with fifth grader Madelyn Vanbogelen from the Coral Academy of Science (Nellis Air Force Base) in Las Vegas claiming third place. Peixoto and Vanbogelen will both receive a certificate and a fishing rod and reel for placing in the top three. As the winner, DeVries will receive a framed copy of her artwork as well as a fishing rod and reel. She and her family will also be treated to a fishing outing.

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