If you or someone you know is a) a fifth grader in Humboldt, Trinity of Del Norte counties, b) can write convincing essays when given vague prompts and c) have always dreamed of being an official U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighter — well then! — the following Six Rivers National Forest release is for you!:

For more than 50 years, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., has asked the USDA Forest Service to provide a tree to adorn the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the holiday season. This year, the Six Rivers National Forest will proudly provide the tree and select a local 5th grader to be named as the official youth tree lighter in a three-county-wide essay contest.

The youth tree lighter may have the opportunity to participate in the tree harvest ceremony, tree lighting ceremony and other local events. Events may be virtual or in-person, and any in-person events will occur in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The youth will be selected by a panel consisting of personnel from the USDA Forest Service, County Offices of Education and the Board of Supervisors from Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity counties, and by office of Representative Jared Huffman, based on the criteria below.

The competition is open to 5th grade students in Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity counties. Students are asked to compose an essay about the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree with the prompt, “What does the theme ‘Six Rivers, Many Peoples, One Tree’ mean to you?”

In addition to the essay, applicants may choose to include a one-page supporting attachment relating the theme to an aspect of science, technology, engineering, arts, and/or mathematics (STEAM) for an interdisciplinary approach.

Submissions will be evaluated on mechanics of grammar, spelling and construct, content, and STEAM integration. The submission should not exceed a 500-word essay with one additional page of illustration/supporting data – all electronic.

Students should submit their essays electronically to their respective County Office of Education (COE) office by Sept. 24.

Each Office of Education will submit their top five (5) entries to the U.S. Forest Service, and the winning submission will be selected and notified in mid-October.

All submissions must be accompanied by the consent form from a parent or guardian for use of the product as well as consent to appear in media. All participants may be recognized by the U.S. Forest Service.