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Huntsville’s Kaylei Selko wins state honors in Arbor Day Poster Competition

Published on February 26, 2021

People digging mulch and dirt in the planting of a tree.
Huntsville’s Kaylei Selko works alongside Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey as they plant a Blue Ice Arizona Cypress tree near the state Capitol.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey joined Goldsmith-Schiffman Elementary School (GSES) fifth-grader Kaylei Selko at the state Capitol in Montgomery Thursday in recognition of her first-place award in the annual Arbor Day Poster Design Contest.

In honor of her performance, Ivey helped her plant a Blue Ice Arizona Cypress tree near the Capitol. Kaylei also delivered remarks that highlighted the theme of this year’s contest, “Trees Are Terrific in Cities and Towns.” Kaylei’s twin sister, Sophia, also placed second in her school in the same competition this year.

“I took part in the competition because I love to draw and paint,” Kaylei said. “And, it was fun to come up with an idea for this.”

The City of Huntsville’s Operation Green Team made the surprise announcement Tuesday at the Selko family’s home. Mayor Tommy Battle and members of Green Team presented prizes to Kaylei, which included a check, pizza party for her classroom and today’s meeting with the Governor.

First place poster design contest winner.
Huntsville’s Kaylei Selko won first place in the state’s Arbor Day Poster Contest with this design.

“My husband and I are incredibly proud of her, not only for being chosen as the winner in the Arbor Day Contest, but for her willingness to overcome shyness and actually give a speech at the Capitol,” said Kaylei’s mother, Stephanie Selko. “We are excited that she had this opportunity and we will be looking at different avenues in progressing her art. She loves it so much. She’s always doodling and drawing random things.”

The contest is open to public, private and home-schooled fifth-graders. In 2019-20, Huntsville’s Dylan Montgomery placed second in the same competition. GSES has represented Huntsville City Schools twice, taking home top honors in the same competition in two different years. For more than two decades, Huntsville has had a local winner place first, second or third each year.

Operation Green Team and the local Alabama Cooperative Extension System office helped coordinate the contest on the regional level. Green Team also strives annually to plant trees throughout the City, which was recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a 2020 Tree City USA.

Visit the Operation Green Team’s Facebook page to learn more.