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Holladay fifth-grader Lena Robison enters poster contest, wins national first prize

Jul 31, 2018 01:50PM ● Published by City Journals Staff

Lena Robison won first prize in the fifth grade division of the Smokey the Bear poster contest. (Photo courtesy Tiffani Robison)

By Heather Lawrence | heather.lawrence@mycityjournals.com 

The National Garden Clubs Association announced the 2018 national winners for their annual Smokey the Bear Poster Contest May 24. Lena Robison, who recently completed fifth grade at Howard R. Driggs Elementary, was selected from among 2,000 entries as the first-place winner in her grade division. 

“This is the first time that a student from Utah has won national recognition. Lena won for her grade level, and was the first runner-up for the grand prize,” said Connie MacKay, president of the local chapter of the National Garden Club. 

The purpose of the contest is to “make our children more aware of fire safety and the role that they play in saving our forests. Ninety percent of our annual wildfires are caused by people,” MacKay said. 

Lena was encouraged to enter the contest this year by her teacher, Alison Jueschke. Jueschke is a local member of the Garden Club, and knew that Lena had entered the poster contest last year. All entries were required to have a graphic of Smokey the Bear, and contain the famous slogan “Only you can prevent wildfires.” 

“It was really tough because I got the notice about (the contest) a little late,” said Lena about the January deadline. “I had to stay up late to get it done, but I believe it was worth it.”

Lena’s mother, Tiffani Robison, encouraged her daughter, but said, “It was all her work. Ms. Jueschke gave Lena advice, told her to include foreground and background elements, and be careful of the lettering. She almost didn’t finish it. But it was all her.” 

“I really like to draw. I used to draw in class all the time and hand out my drawings to my friends,” Lena said. For this project, “I did a few rough drafts. I practiced getting the letters perfect. I didn’t use stencils on the letters; they are freehand. I used Prismacolor colored pencils.” 

Lena’s drawing shows some typical fire safety rules: Smokey holds a shovel reminding people to dig a fire pit and to cover the extinguished ashes completely when they are done. The campfire is surrounded by a circle of rocks to keep the fire from spreading. There is a bucket of water close by to extinguish ashes and embers. And an array of animals are shown, prompting people to be thoughtful of the animals’ habitat.  

When Lena won at the school level, her mother was happy for her. Lena’s entry the year before had done OK. But she kept progressing through the contest, and won at the district level, region level and state level. After that, she was in the finals.

“Several months went by after her entry progressed to the national level and we didn’t hear anything. I figured that was it and we were done,” said Tiffani. But then the last week of school, MacKay gave Tiffany a call to let her know Lena had won first place in the fifth-grade division nationally. “I was delighted!” Robison said.

Lena was thrilled to hear the news. “They told me I’d won over the school announcements! It was really exciting. My friends were happy for me. I was jumping up and down,” Lena said. The prize is a certificate and cash award of $50. 

Holladay City Mayor Rob Dahle will recognize the win at an upcoming city meeting. The contest is one of many National Garden Club youth programs with a cash or scholarship award. For more information on fire safety, Smokey the Bear and Woodsy the Owl programs or other youth contests, see www.gardenclub.org/youth/youth-contests and smokeybear.com.

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