Callie Arnold was pretty confident about her chances of winning this year’s Kansas Arbor Day Poster Contest.
“I knew it,” said the Hillsboro Elementary School fifth-grader. “I was so into it. I love drawing, I love being in art class.”
Turns out she was right. Callie’s poster was judged the best among the six district winners
“I studied at school, and there was a packet,” Callie said about the inspiration for her poster. “When you flip through the page, there were facts and information. So I really paid attention.”
As the state winner, Callie and her family participated in the Kansas Tree City USA Recognition Day April 19 in Topeka, where she was recognized for her achievement by none other than Gov. Sam Brownback himself.
“He asked her what Arbor Day meant to her, and she said it sort of seemed like the trees’ birthday,” said her mom, Melissa. “He thought that was pretty clever, and he reiterated that a couple times while we were planting the tree.”
To mark the occasion, Callie, the governor and Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast planted an oak tree on the Capitol grounds. Callie and her family—including father Chad and siblings Gabbie, 5, and Brody, 2—also toured the Capitol.
Topeka wasn’t the only place to benefit from the planting of a new tree, thanks to Callie’s accomplishment. With the leadership of Tim McDonnell, a district community forester with the Kansas Forestry Service, Callie helped plant a frontier elm in front of the elementary school as her classmates watched.
The frontier elm was chosen because it has good resistance to Dutch elm disease and is known for its reddish-purple fall colors, according to McDonnell.
Callie will be too old to compete in next year’s poster contest, but her mother believes her daughter’s success this year could have an impact.
“After they see what Callie accomplished, we hope they’ll be interested in trying as well,”she said.