‘Experience Your Nature’: Capitol Christmas Tree essay contest open to Colorado fourth-graders


Gov. Jared Polis’ office

Gov. Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis, in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, announced the opportunity for Colorado fourth-graders to take part in sending the Capitol Christmas Tree to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. 

Colorado students are invited to describe why Colorado’s vast, great outdoors are important to them for a chance to win an exclusive tour of the Colorado State Capitol. In July, Polis announced the kickoff of the 2020 Capitol Christmas Tree project.

The essay theme, “Experience Your Nature,” asks young people to share how they’ve spent time outside in Colorado during this challenging year and why the state’s forests are important to them. 

“Coloradans cherish our state’s natural beauty, forests and magnificent outdoor spaces and this is an exciting opportunity for our fourth-graders to help share stories of their special and personal relationship with the vast, great outdoors,” said Polis. “In this challenging time, we all look forward to seeing one of Colorado’s magnificent Engelmann spruce on full display in our nation’s capitol to help our country ring in the holiday season and spread joy.”

The winning essay will be hand-selected by Polis and Reis, who, like many Coloradans, are passionate about outdoor conservation and recreation and using writing as a creative outlet. 

“This is an exciting opportunity for Colorado’s fourth-graders to express their value of our great outdoors through their writing skills. This year has not been easy, but our outdoors have served as a refuge for our community and have always been a beacon of inspiration for our state. We are honored that Colorado can help the rest of our country share in spreading joy and peace this holiday season,” said Reis. 

Further information:

• Essays should be submitted either as a typed document or as a scanned hand-written document.

• This contest is open to current fourth-grade students. 

• The essay should include the name of the student, the best email for the student’s family, the name of the student’s teacher and principal, and the name, address and phone number of the student’s school. 

• Students are also encouraged to submit supplemental photos and videos of their experiences in Colorado’s outdoor spaces. For more details, please visit https://www.uscapitolchristmastree.com/essay. 

The essay contest is operated in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service’s “Every Kid Outdoors” initiative, which invites all U.S. fourth-graders and their families to experience the places that are home to our country’s natural treasures, rich history and vibrant culture. Each year, a different national forest provides a tree to light up the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol building for the holiday season. The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests in partnership with nonprofit partner Choose Outdoors and Colorado Tourism will bring this special gift from Colorado to Washington, D.C., for the 2020 holiday season with special events in 10 communities along the way.

All fourth-graders who submit an essay will also have access to the Every Kids Outdoors program, which was created so fourth-graders and their families could discover our wildlife, nature and history for free. Visit everykidoutdoors.gov to start your adventure and access your free pass to national lands. Fourth-graders are also eligible for a free Christmas tree cutting permit with their Every Kid Outdoors pass or paper voucher. This year’s Christmas tree permits are now available online through Recreation.gov. 

The tree’s journey officially begins Nov. 6, when it will be cut on the Uncompahgre National Forest. A livestream of the ceremony and cutting will be available for viewing online on the GMUG National Forests Facebook page. 

Students should send their 500-word essay to CapitolChristmasEssay@state.co.us by Nov. 9. For more information about the Capitol Christmas Tree, visit https://www.uscapitolchristmastree.com/essay.