Uptown 6th-grader wins National Geographic contest

Sixth-grader and Uptown resident Ella Beaudoin will explore the Galapagos Islands in May as a member of the first National Geographic Kids Expedition Team. Experts will travel with the kids to provide lessons in photography, ecology, writing and exploring.

Out of thousands of entries nationally, Beaudoin was one of six boys and nine girls aged 9 to 14 selected for the 10-day trip and is the only Minnesotan.

Students were judged on short essays they'd submitted in which they described a place in their community they like to explore and the most interesting things found there. In her piece, the 11-year-old wrote of her love for a stately tree in Theodore Wirth Park. (See below for Beaudoin's essay.)

Winning a writing contest was a particular honor for the Groves Academy student because she struggles with dyslexia.

&#8220She has a good ear for the sound of stories and she loves books so much, but reading is a slow process for her,” said Beaudoin's mother, Linda Unsworth.

The National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Kids magazine and the makers of Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer sponsored the contest.

Beaudoin's winning essay about Theodore Wirth Park

This story begins before I was born, with the adoption of our dogs. It was my parents taking our dogs for a walk that led us to this wonderful place. They were walking in a wood on the edge of the city that they had never been in before when they stumbled across the tree, a magnificent oak. The dogs adored the tree. I was then born and two years later, William was. We loved the woods and the oak as much as the dogs did. We always seem to find something new. Once we found a teepee made of sticks. Once we found a hollow tree perfect for a Punch and Judy show. We play King of the Hill on the huge wood chip pile and we always win against our dad. Whatever the season, we always enjoy it - collecting leaves and acorns in the fall, sliding and snowballing in the winter, tracking animals in the spring and picnicking under the oak in the summer. Our best finds were a small skull, an antler and some sprouting acorns. We always end up at our big old oak to give it a hug.

- Ella Beaudoin