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Oklahoma Fifth-Grader Named Winner in Arbor Day National Poster Contest

date 04/21/09

For more information, contact

Jeff Salem, Director of Communications & Public Relations,   email

NEBRASKA CITY, Neb. (April 21, 2009) – The Arbor Day Foundation has selected Geneva Mendoza, a fifth-grade student at Maryetta School in Stilwell, Okla., as winner of the 2009 Arbor Day National Poster Contest. The annual contest for fifth-grade students nationwide is sponsored by Toyota and runs in conjunction with the national celebration of Arbor Day – which will be held Friday, April 24.

"My interest in trees comes pretty naturally since our family has always celebrated Arbor Day," Geneva said. "Planting trees and competing in the poster contest is an exciting part of the year for me--winning nationally is a huge honor!"

The contest includes a classroom curriculum and other activities to help boost students' knowledge and appreciation of trees, and is free and open to fifth-grade students nationwide. More than 1.5 million students were involved with the contest and related classroom curriculum.

"We were extremely impressed with Geneva's artwork," said Michelle Saulnier-Scribner, program director for The Arbor Day Foundation. "It's so moving to see a child put this kind of effort and purpose into creating artwork that conveys an understanding and appreciation of trees. There were many excellent posters this year. Geneva, her teacher and her family should be very proud."

This year's contest carried the theme of "Trees are Terrific ... In Cities and Towns," chosen in part to help students better understand the importance of trees in communities of all sizes. This is the fourth time the Foundation has selected this theme since the poster contest's 1992 inception, as it has always been among the most popular.

Nearly 10,000 votes cast online

This year, for the first time, the public was invited to vote online for its favorite poster. Nearly 10,000 votes were cast, ultimately helping the Foundation and a panel of five judges select finalists for the competition.

As national winner, Geneva will receive a $1,000 U.S. savings bond and attend the National Arbor Day Celebration in Nebraska City, Neb., on April 24, along with her parents, Cara and Roman Mendoza, and art teacher, Samilou Smith. She also will receive a $100 savings bond, a certificate from the Arbor Day Foundation, legislative citations and a framed copy of her poster for being Oklahoma's statewide winner.

More about Arbor Day: On January 4, 1872, J. Sterling Morton first proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called "Arbor Day" at a meeting of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture. The date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for planting the largest number of trees on that day. More than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. Now, 137 years later, each April millions of trees are planted all across the United States in celebration of Arbor Day.

About Toyota: Toyota (NYSE: TM) established operations in the United States in 1957 and currently operates 10 manufacturing plants. Toyota is committed to being a good corporate citizen in the communities where it does business and believes in supporting programs with long-term sustainable results. Toyota supports numerous organizations across the country, focusing on education, the environment and safety. Since 1991, Toyota has contributed more than $464 million to philanthropic programs in the U.S. For more information on Toyota's commitment to improving communities nationwide, visit

About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at

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