OGDEN -- Sonja Stevenson thinks trees are pretty terrific.
That's why, when her sixth-grade class at Shadow Valley Elementary decided to enter the Utah Arbor Day Poster Contest on why trees are useful and terrific, she dove right in.
Now, to her surprise, Sonja was selected to win the contest's grand prize.
She spent Friday at Red Butte Gardens in Salt Lake City with other regional winners, including Shadow Valley second-grader Sae Obayashi.
Sonja was able to plant a tree at the Gardens' arboretum, but her favorite part of winning came Monday afternoon when planting coordinators from Tree Utah came to her school and helped her class plant a tree on school grounds. "I really liked that everyone got to participate and my class got to help," Sonja said.
She stood proudly in front of her newly framed artwork, in which the title "Trees are Terrific" was written across the top of a scene of mountains and trees, surrounded by many of the ways trees are useful.
Sonja's drawing was so intricate that in the bark of the trees she wove in smaller drawings of things trees are used for, such as pencils, houses and chairs. She also drew such words as oxygen and CO2 into the bark.
Sonja's teacher, Kali Blanchard, is proud of her student.
"I knew it was a winner right when I saw it," Blanchard said of Sonja's drawing.
She remembers taking it to the school office and telling the principal, "This is a winner."
Principal Leanne Rich remembers that, too.
Blanchard had the students work on their separate projects during art time for a couple of weeks and then invited the students to take their projects home to finish them. That's exactly what Sonja did.
She drew the project at school and then spent hours coloring it in with colored pencils.
Sonja is no stranger to winning art contests -- she won the Eccles Dinosaur Park art contest earlier this year.
The school's tradition of entering the Arbor Day poster contest spans several years, even before the school was named Shadow Valley and opened at its new location a few years ago.
"Grandview has always done the contest," Rich said, referring the old school name. "We've always planted a tree."
Each year, regional winners get to plant a tree at their school. However, this is the first year the school has had a grand-prize winner, Rich said.
"We have always had many entries," she said.
Sopnja said she plans to keep drawing and learning about her environment, two things she loves.
She said she plans to be a marine biologist when she grows up and will draw in her spare time.