Library's invitation to write about science draws student participation

As in previous years, this year’s Forest Grove Conversations Program included an invitation for local students to participate in an essay contest by submitting 250- to 500-word essays.

Writing prompts included the idea that students could time-travel to 1859, the year Oregon joined the union, and talk with the state’s founders about ways to preserve the natural world; interviewing a local government official about how to most sustainably take care of the community’s trash; and the most pressing contemporary problem science might be able to help us solve.

First-place winners were invited to ready their essays at the March 13 forum, “Blinded by Science: The Politics of Fact in an Election Year,” which drew about 10 people to the Community Auditorium in Forest Grove.

There were three divisions: Elementary, grades 5-6; Middle, grades 7-9; and Senior, grades, 10-12. First-place winners received $100, second-place winners received $50 and honorable mention winners received $25.

The annual forum is sponsored by the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovations at Pacific and the Friends of the Forest Grove Library.

Several students took up the topic of the environment and sustainability, while one youngster wrote about the effects of a diminishing bee population.

Two of the winning essays are presented on this page.

A meeting with John McLoughlin

It was at the beginning of my day. I was about to press the red button on the time machine wall. Crossing my sweaty fingers, I hoped all would be fine. I told myself I had to do this mission. My finger touched the glossy button; everything seemed to stop. I opened the door and BAM! I found myself in the middle of a huge Doug Fir forest. It was the year they call 1859.

I was alone and did not know where I was or where to go. I yelled loudly; no one answered. I was so hungry that my stomach roared like a lion. I decided to sleep instead of eat. Beneath a wonderful big tree I found shelter.

The next day as I was walking I saw a blazing fire. I approached it slowly and to my content it was at an Indian camp. I was directed to talk to the chief elder, so I did. I told him why I was here and he told me that the man I want to speak to was John Mcloughlin.

I kindly asked him where I could find Mr. Mcloughlin. The man said he would show me after we eat. We had a wonderful meal. Later on I went to talk to Mr. Mcloughlin, the author of Oregons foundation, listened to me.

“Sir, I know you don’t know me but I would like to hopefully convince you to add a provision to Oregon’s constitution.”

“Okay, I’ll hear you out,” he said.

With him listening carefully I told him of my thoughts.

“Mr. Mcloughlin I’m wondering if you could add things to your constitution, things that will help our environment”.

“Alright,” he said.

“I’m wondering if you will put laws to protect our environment from harm.”

“And why is that? What harm is here?”

“Well I’m sure that people are going to destroy these wonderful trees, dirty the rivers, hurt the animals and poison the air.”

“How can you be sure?”

I wanted to tell him where I was from but I just couldn’t.

“Believe me sir I can tell that these things will sooner or later happen”.

“How will I trust you, I’m not going to take your word like that.”

“Sir, if we don’t have a good environment where will we go; where will we live? Do you want to take that chance?”

“I’ll tell you what,” he said, “you come back tomorrow and I’ll give you my decision”.

“Okay,” I agreed.

I came back the next day and he replied.

“I’ll give your idea a try but if I don’t think it is working we will change it.”

“Thank you,” I said politely.

Finally, I went back to my time machine and pressed that button. When I got back to my time I saw that there were bigger trees, cleaner rivers, more animals and cleaner air. I looked around; people were dancing. At that point I knew he had listened.

— Benjamin Eric Bell

Middle division 1st prize

Contract Publishing

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