Joyce Qin has some pretty proud grandparents. They made their first trip from China to Washington, D.C., to watch U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell honor the 11-year-old Memphis-area student as the national winner of the 2014 Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl Poster Contest.
“Joyce competed against 30,000 contestants. This is quite an accomplishment,” Tidwell said as Qin’s grandparents, parents, brother and a host of Forest Service employees looked on. “We use this contest as a tool to convey our messages about preventing wildfires and caring for the land. Through artistry, we have another way to connect people to the importance of water, air and wildlife.”
The contest, a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the National Garden Clubs Inc., calls on students in first through fifth grades to demonstrate through original drawings the messages of Smokey Bear (“Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires”) and Woodsy Owl (“Lend a Hand – Care for the Land”). Qin simply created her design after a flyer was sent home from school announcing the contest.
“Qin’s poster stood out as a national winner because it had the concept of Smokey Bear not only enjoying the forest but also being able to share the message of preventing wildfires,” said Iris Velez, Forest Service National Symbols Program manager.
Qin, a fifth grader, likes to play soccer and read. But she has a special place in her heart for art. And now for Smokey Bear.
“Smokey Bear, as you should know, travels around to teach fire safety. So, of course, he has to get his picture taken!” said Qin’s mother Ying Xiong of Germantown, Tennessee. “She spent a lot of time drawing out thumbnail sketches for ideas and eventually settled on ‘Postcards from Smokey.’”
This year, Qin first won the fifth-grade level contest and then competed with the other grade-level winners for the top prize. As top winner, Qin received a free trip to Washington, including round-trip airfare and accommodations for four. A $50 check, given by the National Garden Clubs Inc., is awarded to national winners from each grade level.
Other winners, all sponsored by the Southern California Garden Club, are Hannah Ju, first grade, Porter Ranch, Calif.; Bohmi Yoon, second grade, Northridge, Calif.; Jacob Kim, third grade, Porter Ranch; and Helmandi Subhan, fourth grade, Northridge.