WASHINGTON, JUNE 18, 2010 AT 3:15 PM EDT - USDA Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell today presented 9-year-old Matalynn Clark with a trophy during a special ceremony at the Forest Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C., naming her the 2010 National Grand Prize Winner of the Smokey Bear/Woodsy Owl Poster Contest.
"As the years go by, I am constantly amazed by the quality of the posters we get and by the artistic abilities of our children," Tidwell said. "This year's winning poster shows Woodsy Owl, wings outstretched, showing the path to conservation encouraging all Americans, young and old, to volunteer, to restore habitats, to recycle and to plant trees."
Matalynn, who lives in Virginia Beach, Va., won the third-grade category before taking top honors for her poster depicting Woodsy and the many ways people can care for the land. Matalynn received a $100 U.S. Savings Bond and round-trip airfare and accommodations for four to Washington, D.C. Her poster also may be used for national educational materials and outreach.
The poster includes a drawing of two young children planting a tree in the forest. Matalynn's design supports programs, such as First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative to get kids to be more physically active. The Forest Service has been a leader in conservation education and recreational opportunities for more than a century, especially in programs such as "More Kids in the Woods" that promotes an active lifestyle and connects kids to nature.
More than 34,000 entries were received from first- to fifth-grade students around the country. The contest is co-sponsored by the National Garden Clubs Inc., the largest volunteer gardening organization in the world. It is the 49th year of the partnership between the Forest Service and National Garden Clubs.
Students were asked to demonstrate through original 11-inch by 17-inch drawings of Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl their understanding of fire prevention and basic environmental conservation principles. Students were also asked to use Smokey's motto - "Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires" - or Woodsy's motto - "Lend a Hand - Care for the Land" - as part of their drawings.
Other grade-level finalists are:
- First grade: Carley Jacobs of Box Springs, Ga., L.K. Moss Primary School, Buena Vista, Ga.
- Second grade: Karina Gilbert of Virginia Beach, Thoroughgood Elementary School, Virginia Beach.
- Fourth grade: Kadajah Perry of Evergreen, Ala., Evergreen Elementary School.
- Fifth grade: Erin Walton of Horse Cave, Ky., Hiseville Elementary School, Glasgow, Ky.
View the winning posters at the Garden Club Web site.