Governor Kate Brown asked our Oregon’s fourth-graders a question, “What do you love about the Oregon outdoors?”

More than 1,200 students from across the state submitted essays on the topic, hoping to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to light the Oregon tree at the National Christmas Tree lighting.

Fourth-graders sent thousands of essays to Gov. Brown, with two students from Salem-Keizer Public Schools included in a group of the nine finalists.

Gideon Heard, who attends McKinley Elementary, was one of those finalists. He shared his love of Oregon’s seasons. “There is nowhere like Oregon and no better place to be outdoors than Oregon, no matter what season of the year,” wrote Gideon in his essay.

Kaitlyn Williams, from Kalapuya Elementary, was the other finalist from our district. She wrote about one of her first backpacking trips with her family. Kaitlyn shared her excitement for the wonders of Mount Jefferson, and all of the incredible landscapes Oregon has to offer.

Although a Hillsboro student’s essay was picked as the top essay, as finalists, Kaitlyn and Gideon got to read their essays to Gov. Brown last week during a private meeting at the Oregon State Capitol. What a thrill for our students!

We are so proud of you Kaitlyn and Gideon. Congratulations on being recognized as two of the top fourth-grade essay writers in Oregon!