An annual poster contest on recycling hosted by the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority has completed its fourth year.

Honored this year as the grand prize regional winner was Hayley Virbickas of Bridgewater.

Not only did Hayley, a sophomore at Shepaug Valley High School, win a $150 savings bond, her winning poster is displayed on two billboards in May.

Drivers heading south on Route 7 in New Milford or north on Federal Road in Danbury will be able to view her poster, with the catchy phrase "Out With The Old -- In With Renew" over colorful graphics depicting recycling-related images.

Hayley hasn't been the only winner in this year's contest, open to children in K-12 grades in Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield and Sherman, the towns served by HRRA.

Contestants were asked to draw a poster showing "what you recycle to help the Earth," the theme chosen for this year's contest.

After each municipality chose local first-, second- and third-place winners, the first-place winners went on to compete for regional prizes.

Forty-eight regional winners were selected from the entries of more than 1,300 children. Regional winners in each grade receive savings bonds of $100, $75 or $50, depending on how they placed.

Jennifer Iannucci from HRRA worked on the contest with the Regional Recycling Task Force and local coordinators from each town. The contest runs from January to March each year.

"I'm proud of all the kids who took the time to be creative and think of ways to recycle," Ms. Iannucci said. "I'm grateful to all the coordinators in all the towns and for the support from the major sponsor, Union Savings Bank, and the additonal sponsorships from the haulers."

"So many people came together," she added, "to make this happen."

Major sponsorship was provided by Union Savings Bank for the fourth year, with additional sponsorship provided by Associated Refuse Haulers, Trashranger Dumpster Service and All American Waste.

"Part of our mission is to increase recycling in the region. There's no better way to increase recycling than to make sure children know about it," said Cheryl Reedy, director of HRRA. "Kids are the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable and excited recyclers.

"There were a couple of the winners this year, actually five of them," she said, "who have won something in previous years."

"At the regional awards ceremony, one young lady from Brookfield, who has won something three out four years, left the podium saying `I already have in mind what next year's poster will be.' " Ms. Reedy concluded.

For more information and a look at the winning posters, visit www.hrra.org.