For the past 15 years, Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area has been conducting poetry contests for grades K-3, 4-6 and sometimes the middle school.

The poets featured here are this year’s Ashe County K-3 category winners. The park had more than 150 poems summited this year from grades k-6. In previous years, the contest has seen more than 350 poems submitted by local students.

Each year students are asked to write a poem about Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area. This year the park’s ranger, maintenance and office staff judged the contest. Ranger Tom Randolph started the contest back in 2006 with the support of Friends of State Parks. Each year 10-15 local poets are awarded prizes such as tents, sleeping bags, back packs, flashlights and telescopes. Prizes were funded by the Friends of High Country State Parks.

Through the years the park has had help, as some NC Poet Laureates have helped judge the finalist poetry.

Many times, during the poetry contest park staff have the opportunity to meet families, grandparents and students who come to the mountain during the day or at sunset to be inspired by the natural beauty of Mt. Jefferson.

“We always remember that this mountain has been set aside and protected from development and exploitation because of forward-thinking people,” said Randolph. “People from this community wanted to know that this mountain would be safe for future generations. Today as we ponder our ever-changing world, it is a comfort to know that this mountain is safe, and it belongs to the children of today and their children’s children.”

Randolph continued, “These young poets know that this is their mountain, and it is inspiring to know that they care about all the plants and animals who call Mt. Jefferson home.”

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