For 54 years, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Garden Clubs Inc., have worked together to sponsor the National Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl poster contest that reaches elementary children throughout the U.S.
This year’s grand prize winner is Audrey Morga, an 11-year old, and a fifth grader at St. Bernardine of Siena School in Woodland Hills, California.
“When I found out that I won, I had to pinch myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming,” said Morga.
Audrey’s inspiration for the poster came from the idea of having different animals helping to ‘Care for the Land’.
Audrey’s dad, John, said he found out about the poster contest by doing some research while the kids were on their winter break last year. He wanted them to do something fun, learn about the environment, and create memories with family.
“This was the first time the kids entered a poster contest outside of school or sponsored by an organization,” said John Morga. “This was a fun process and learning experience for all of us. I felt like an art teacher. The kids spent hours planning, implementing and then polishing their creation.”
Her mother recalls a picture of Audrey at about two years of age completely absorbed while doing hand painting, and that has not changed much.
“She has a penchant for creativity, and likes to draw, paint, do origami and other arts and crafts activities,” said Audrey’s mom, Milka. “Audrey finds inspiration in nature. Nature has given her ideas on what to draw, as well as inspiration to draw anything! It’s not unusual to find Audrey in any outdoor setting sitting on a picnic blanket with a sketchbook and colored pencils.”
The contest, a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the National Garden Clubs Inc., calls on students in first through fifth grades to demonstrate through original drawings the messages of Smokey Bear (“Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires”) and Woodsy Owl (“Lend a Hand-Care for the Land”).
Audrey keeps herself busy with school, and after school activities such as ballet/tap, piano and cello lessons. She loves to read and will squeeze in reading time during car rides, especially if it’s a good book. She also enjoys listening to all kinds of music – from classical to pop. Her favorite subjects include art, music and science. And she has a soft spot for pandas.
Audrey lives with her parents, her nine-year old brother, and a one-year old Labradoodle named Russell. Her brother, Spencer, also participated in the poster contest and won first place for the third grade level.