Colorado, USDA Forest Service Announces Capitol Christmas Tree Essay Contest Winner

December 2, 2020

Governor Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis, in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the Colorado Tourism Office, have chosen Alessandra Wilson as the winner of the 2020 Colorado Christmas Tree Essay Contest. Ms. Wilson is a fourth grade student at Peak to Peak Elementary in Lafayette, Colorado and is awarded first-place recognition for her essay, “Quandary is Home”. Second-place is awarded to Adam Cartwright of Boulder, and the Third-place winner is Corrie Malone of Wheat Ridge.

“These amazing essays showcase the talent of Colorado’s young writers and highlight the special role that our amazing outdoor areas have in our lives,” said Governor Polis.

“To select the winning essays, we outlined 3 key criteria criteria: mention of how nature has been a way to relax and de-stress during the course of the COVID019 pandemic; mention of specific trips and places in Colorado; and quality of writing,” said First Gentleman Reis. “The Governor and I enjoyed reading these essays and learning how much the outdoors mean to students across our state.”

The Essay Contest was announced last month and Colorado fourth graders across the state were invited to take part in sending the Capitol Christmas Tree to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.. The contest received 98 total submissions from participants in 25 Colorado communities. Students were asked to describe why Colorado’s vast, great outdoors are important to them for a chance to win an exclusive tour of the Colorado State Capitol. Winner Alessandra Wilson will be welcomed to the capitol building sometime next year. 

Ms. Wilson’s essay exemplified this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree theme, “Experience Your Nature,” which prompted students to share how they’ve spent time outside in Colorado during this challenging year and why the state’s forests are important to them. She writes of her time spent with family in Poudre Canyon, Telluride, and Breckenridge throughout the year, and the feeling of freedom that is brought by breathing freely in nature. Alessandra’s full essay can be found here. Upon hearing the news of her award, Alessandra said "Thank you so much, I wrote this from the heart."

The 98 competitive submissions demonstrated the importance of nature to young people in all four corners of the state. The top three essays were hand selected by Governor Polis and First Gentleman Reis. To honor the skilled submissions of all of 98 contestants, the 16 finalists, and the three winners, Governor Polis issued an official proclamation making November 30th, 2020 “Experience your Nature Day”.

The essay contest is operated in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service’s “Every Kid Outdoors” initiative, which invites all U.S. fourth- and fifth-graders and family members fee-free access to more than 2,000 sites on national forests and grasslands for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. Each year, a different national forest provides a tree to light up the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building for the holiday season. This year, the 50th anniversary of the USDA Forest Service’s participation, theGrand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests in partnership with nonprofit partner Choose Outdoors and Colorado Tourism recently delivered the 2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C. for the 2020 holiday season. 

The tree was harvested from the Uncompahgre National Forest on November 6th and will be lit by Speaker of the House, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, on Wednesday, December 2 at 5 p.m. ET.

Source: Office of Colorado Governor Jared Polis