US Capitol Christmas Tree News

Free Outdoor Recreation Passes Available for Fourth Graders and their Families

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


It’s back to school time! And with the start of the new school year, it’s also time for all fourth graders and their families to claim their free Every Kid in a Park pass which allows free entry into all federal parks, forests, and recreation areas for a full year.

Starting September 1st, fourth graders can print out a paper voucher for free entry into all federal lands by visiting the Every Kid in a Park website at Students and their families can also redeem their paper voucher for a plastic pass at any Forest Service office. For office locations, visit The voucher and passes are valid for the entire school year, September 1, 2018-August 31, 2019.

The Forest Service is partnering with schools and educators across Oregon and Washington to plan Every Kid in a Park events in local communities and distribute passes at back-to-school events this fall. For more information on upcoming Every Kid in a Park events, contact your local forest.

Teachers or adults who engage fourth-graders through a youth-serving organization can print paper passes, and find activities and lesson plans, at

Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces. At the same time, kids are spending more hours than ever in front of screens instead of outside. The Every Kid in a Park initiative encourages valuable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in the spectacular places that belong to us all and aims to inspire future generations to serve as stewards of these places. Research shows that children ages 9-11 are at a unique developmental stage in their learning where they begin to understand how the world around them works in more concrete ways. By targeting fourth graders, the program works to ensure every child in the U.S. has the opportunity to visit and enjoy their public lands by the time he or she is 11 years old. For more information, visit


Governor Brown Launches 4th Grade Essay Contest: Win the chance to light the tree in D.C.!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Calling all fourth grade students: “Why do you love spending time outdoors?”

One lucky, young Oregonian will have the opportunity to fly to Washington, D.C. and join the Speaker of the House in lighting the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree during the official ceremony. To coincide with the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree theme, “Find Your Trail!”, we’re launching an essay contest asking 4th grade students to write letters about what they love about Oregon’s outdoors. Governor Kate Brown will select one letter from statewide 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 House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and the public in attendance, and also attend festivities surrounding the tree lighting taking place throughout the capitol.

Applications and essay submissions are due by Friday, September 28, 2018. The winner will be announced October 12, 2018, with travel to Washington, D.C. the first week of December. Essays submissions should be formatted with 12 point font, 1 inch margins and double spacing. Letters should be no longer than 500 words and will be evaluated on the following criteria: relevant content, clear focus, and originality.

The online application is available on the Governor's website, located here.

Last day for submission- September 28, 2018
Winner announced- October 12, 2018


Instruction Guide now available for 3rd and 4th Grade Classrooms

Thursday, September 06, 2018

With September upon us, school is back in session and the U.S. Capitol Christmas offers a great learning opportunity for students. In partnership with the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, we are pleased to offer the U.S. Capitol Tree Instruction Guide. The guide is designed to help third and fourth-grade teachers use this initiative as a context for investigating why Oregon is such a great place for growing trees. Through graphs and other data, students will examine where Oregon Christmas trees come from and where they go, and explore the importance of trees and forests to our state and beyond.

While the guide uses Oregon forests as inspiration, the content is relevant to any fourth-grade classroom wherever you may be! If you are third or fourth grade teacher or have a student in these grades, consider putting the tools in the guide to use in your classroom this fall, and then follow along with the tree's journey as it travels the Oregon Trail in reverse and out to Washington D.C. in November.

Download the Instruction Guide (PDF) here or request a hard copy of the guide by visiting

Happy learning!