2012 Student Essay and Picture Contest

Amigos de los Rios office wall of contest entries
Student Essay & Picture Contest winner Temple High School student Kirsten Fernow and her lovely mother.

Student Essay & Picture Contest winner Temple City High School student                                        Kirsten Fernow and her lovely mother.

Student Essay and Picture Contest on the Importance of Trees

We all know that trees look lovely, they provide shade, and they make our neighborhoods look nice, but what many of us don’t realize is how we connect to trees on a personal level.

This year, Amigos de los Rios asked elementary, middle school, and high school students within the Emerald Necklace: Why are trees important to you? The entries we received demonstrate an incredible connection between nature and the lives of students in the greater San Gabriel Valley.

Students were asked to write one paragraph or create a drawing on one of the following three questions: 1. Why are trees in you school important to you? 2. Why do we need to protect the Angeles National Forest and the San Gabriel Mountains? 3. Why are trees and nature important to children?

One student from Madrid Middle School in El Monte, CA mentioned in his essay that the trees planted at his school by Amigos de los Rios are important to him because they help him keep calm during stressful times in his life. He enjoys sitting under the shade of a tree and feeling the breeze sooth his troubles away.

Another student from Wilkerson Elementary in El Monte, CA mentioned in her photo essay that the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles National Forest need to be kept clean so that future children may have the opportunity to experience natural beauty. She doesn’t like how people can go and visit the forest and leave trash behind.

Lastly, a high school student from Duarte High School expressed her sadness over the toppled trees at her school during the Southern California windstorms. These trees, gracefully nicknamed “Jane” and “Tarzan” by the cheer leading squad, were important to her because they provided shade for her cheer leading squad during after school practice due to the lack of gym facilities at her school. As you can see trees and wildlife aren’t just ‘green’ decorations for some students; they provide a personal connection with students and impact their lives in so many ways.

Between December 19th and 21st, 2012, Amigos de los Rios staff, community members, and community church leaders read and selected essays and drawings that projected responses to the questions we asked about the importance of nature and trees in our lives. A mural of student drawings covered our tallest wall and beautifully filled our office with color. Essays were read and assessed to reflect a personal connection to nature, trees on campus, and the importance of an urban forest.

Henceforth, we selected three winners for our 2012 Student Essay and Drawing contest.

Congratulations to 3rd place winner- Edith B. of Wilkerson School-, 2nd place winner Jazmin L. of Madrid Middle School-, and our grand prize winner-1st place Arianna L. of Columbia School!

There were lots of great essays and photos – everyone certainly knows why trees, the Angeles Forest, and the San Gabriel Mountains are very important. Congratulations to everyone who participated!

Support for this project was provided by California ReLeaf,  the Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection with funding from the Safe Drinking Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006.

Thank you to all the students who participated in our 2012 Amigos de los Rios Student Essay and Drawing Contest!
Armando Rodríguez- Education and Outreach Fellow- Amigos de los Ríos- armando@amigosdelosrios.org

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