SWEETWATER COUNTY — Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism (SWCTT) presented former 5th grade Truman Elementary student, McKayla Baker, of Green River, a plaque honoring her as the 2020 Wyoming Arbor Day Poster Contest winner.
Lucy Diggins-Wold with SWCTT presented the award. Wold served as the secretary of Wyoming Project Learning Tree for 11 years and continues to serve as a facilitator for Wyoming Project Learning Tree.
In attendance for the presentation were McKayla Baker, her mother Natalie Baker, Lucy Diggins-Wold, Jenissa Meredith, Executive Director for Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism and Mark D. Lyon, City of Rock Springs Parks Superintendent, Wyoming State Director for the International Society of Arboriculture, Certified Arborist and SWCTT board member.
Under normal circumstances McKayla and her family would travel to Cheyenne where Governor Mark Gordon would present the award at the state Arbor Day Event. However, McKayla is unable to travel to Cheyenne and Sweetwater County Travel & Tourism wanted to ensure that McKayla received the in-person recognition that she deserves.
SWCTT wanted to acknowledge McKayla’s hard work and for being an ambassador for the importance of trees in our community. Governor Gordon will still recognize McKayla at the state Arbor Day Event on Monday, October 5 and her family hopes she will be able to attend in some virtual manner.
“The beautiful landscape of Wyoming and the incredible trees that benefit both residents and visitors of the area are a big part of what makes Wyoming special. We wanted to personally thank McKayla and her family for embracing Arbor Day and portraying the beauty of the area through her artwork,” Meredith said.
During the presentation, Mark Lyon also commented on the importance of trees in our high desert climate and the benefits that they provide. “It is exciting to see the student and teacher involvement in the Project Learning Tree Program and the future effects it will have on our citizens and communities.” Lyon said.
Wyoming is one of a handful of states that still hosts an annual Arbor Day Poster Contest. The contest began as a national program that the Arbor Day Foundation sponsored, and State Forestry programs assisted with in an effort to get school-aged students to participate and get involved with local Arbor Day Celebrations.
The contest in Wyoming is sponsored by the Wyoming State Forestry Division and the Wyoming Project Learning Tree. It is open to any 4th or 5th grader across the state, including public, private and homeschooled students. Each year, a theme is chosen and Project Learning Tree (PLT) activities are suggested for educators to utilize in their planning to teach students about trees in their everyday lives.
“This is a great opportunity to highlight a young student, like McKayla, fostering good stewardship and conservation in her own community and her home state. Kudos to her teacher, Ms. Terri Jones, for taking the time to get her students excited about the Arbor Day Poster Contest,” Diggins-Wold said.
Trees play an integral part of people’s lives and are an important asset to communities and the world. By encouraging students to learn about the importance of trees they are taught to respect natural resources and to become good stewards of the land. The winner and their teacher each receive $100, and the student also receives a plaque.