Bright Spots in Home Schooling

May 25, 2005  

5th-grader's poster wins Arbor Day award

By Christina Ishizu

Christy Reid, a 5th-grade homeschooler from Hayden Lake, Idaho, did not expect to be in Washington, D.C., on Arbor Day, 2005. In fact, the trip—first-place prize for the National Arbor Day Poster Contest—came as quite a surprise to her whole family. Although her poster had recently won the Idaho state competition, Christy says, "I didn't have the feeling that I'd win [the national contest]."

Christy Reid with Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne after her poster's unveiling at the Idaho state capitol (Photo courtesy of the Idaho Forest Products Commission)
The annual National Arbor Day Poster Contest is held exclusively for 5th graders, and Christy had planned on entering this contest ever since her friend, Hannah Coad, won both the state and national competitions two years ago. "I've always liked to draw," Christy says. "I usually use pencil and charcoal, but for this poster I used watercolors."

The theme of this year's contest was "Trees are terrific—and energy wise." In order to properly design her poster, Christy spent several days researching how trees are used to reduce energy costs. She decided to draw a tree at the top of her poster as an essential source of energy, placing the world underneath the tree. Christy says that there were so many things she wanted to put into this poster that she used a rather unusual strategy to compose it. "I made a collage on the computer of sheep, trees, people, and lots of animals for a total of about 75 images. I looked at all of them and made the poster from that."

In honor of her Idaho victory, Christy and her family were flown to the state capitol in Boise for a tree planting ceremony on April 25. Governor Dirk Kempthorne presided over the ceremony and assisted Christy in planting her tree. The next day, the Reids were flown to Washington, D.C., for a few days of sightseeing and an Arbor Day ceremony celebrating Christy's national win. At the U.S. Botanic Garden, Christy's poster was unveiled and a tree was planted in her name.

Immediately afterward, the Reids flew to the National Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City for a special banquet honoring Christy. The following day another banquet honored those who had received awards for environmental stewardship in their cities and countries around the world. Christy was the only child in the group.

The Reids say homeschooling made it all possible. "If we weren't homeschooling, Christy wouldn't have had the time to concentrate on her art," says Suzanne Reid, Christy's mom. "It's been a great process for Christy. She learned how to research, how to look for images, and how to begin designing. The real winning was the solving of the problem and everything Christy has learned in the process, and that's the blessing of homeschooling."

 Other Resources

The winning poster (pdf)

Learn more about the National Arbor Day Poster Contest..

More Bright Spots in Home Schooling...