Monthly Archives: September 2018

Essay contest: Oregon 4th graders can enter to win trip to light U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

A photo of the 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, lit with multiple colored holiday lights, outside the Capitol at dusk. The Capitol Dome is also lit, by floodlights.

SALEM, Ore. – September 12, 2018 – One lucky Oregon 4th grader will win a trip to Washington, D.C., where he or she will join the U.S. Speaker of the House in lighting the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

The Capitol Christmas Tree committee launched an essay contest today asking 4th grade students from Oregon to write letters about what they love about Oregon’s outdoors to coincide with the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree theme, “Find Your Trail!”

Governor Kate Brown will select one student author from statewide letter submissions to receive a once-in-a-lifetime all-expenses paid trip for the winner and one guardian to travel to Washington, D.C. to take part in the tree-lighting ceremony alongside members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the public. The winner and the guardian will also attend festivities surrounding the tree lighting taking place throughout the Capitol.

The application is located at Oregon 3rd and 4th Grade teachers are invited to utilize the Oregon Forest Resources Institute’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Instruction Guide, which is designed for students to learn why Oregon is such a great place for growing trees, and the importance of trees and forests to our state and beyond.

All U.S. 4th grade students are also eligible to receive a free annual pass to hundreds of parks, lands and waters across the United States for an entire year through the Every Kid In A Park program. Eligible 4th grade students can also apply to receive a free Christmas Tree cutting permit as part of this program (details here).

The tradition of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree began in 1964. Each year a different national forest is chosen to provide “The People’s Tree” for the holiday season.

Oregon’s tree will come from the Willamette National Forest as a gift to the people of the United States, and will be displayed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C in December 2018.

Applications and essay submissions are due by Friday, September 28, 2018. The winner will be announced October 12, 2018 and travel to Washington, D.C. during the first week of December. Please help students ensure their submissions are formatted with 12 point font, 1 inch margins and double spacing.

Essays should be no longer than 500 words, and will be evaluated on the following criteria: relevant content, clear focus, and originality.

See the Capitol Christmas Tree as it travels along the Oregon Trail in November 2018! Information about the tree, travel route, schedule and special events will be available at

To get involved: Email


Willamette National Forest: With more than 1.5 million acres, the beautiful Willamette National Forest, Oregon, is home to eight wilderness areas—including the popular Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson Wildernesses—and has over 1,700 miles of trails for hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The varied landscapes of the high mountains, coastal rainforests, narrow canyons, and cascading streams offer visitors excellent opportunities to play and explore. We encourage people to use the #FindYourTrail hashtag as they explore trails and other areas of their local National Forest.

Sweet Home, Ore., is often referred to as the “Gateway to the Santiam Playground” due to its proximity to the Sweet Home Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest and its trails, lakes, rivers and mountains.

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree: For more than 50 years, the USDA Forest Service has provided the Capitol Christmas Tree, also known as the People’s Tree, which symbolizes hope and the holiday spirit. It is an annual reminder of the beauty found in our National Forests. For more information, visit

Source information: Willamette National Forest staff and 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree Committee joint release