Cottonwood third grader wins LNF Archaeology Student Essay Contest

Ellie Sprague, of Cottonwood, California, took us on a journey to her favorite spot for family fun and outdoor activities in her essay about Whiskeytown Lake in Shasta County and won first place in the Lassen National Forest Archaeology Student Essay Contest.

LNF congratulated Sprague and the other contest winners.

In October , LNF announced an essay contest for third grade students in Lassen, Shasta, Tehama, Butte, Plumas, Siskiyou and Modoc counties in celebration of Archaeology Month.

To participate in this contest, students submitted an essay on a place that is at least 50 years old that means something to them, why they like it, how old it is, and why it should be preserved.

Runner-up goes to Ethan Martens from Chester, California. Martens explored Subway Cave and even included helpful safety tips for a trip there.

A special honorable mention goes to Taylor Turner from Chester, California for a fun fact look and family’s historical connection to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

Thank you to the Shasta Historical Society for their generous donation for our first-place winner who received a One Year Family Pass to Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding. Our runner-up received a copy of “Can you Dig it” by Amanda Baker.

“This was a wonderful experience,” said Jennifer Norton, acting Forest Archaeologist on the Lassen National Forest. “I enjoyed the creativity expressed in the essay submissions we received and look forward to more opportunities to engage with young people in our communities”

“Thank you for sharing your favorite places with us and why they are so special to you, and thank you to your families, friends, and educators who supported you,”  said Forest Supervisor, Deb Bumpus. “I can’t wait to see what third graders in our communities come up with next year.”

Here’s Sprague’s winning essay
Reasons I Love Whiskeytown Lake
A place that is important to me that is more than 50 years old is Whiskeytown Lake. Whiskeytown Lake began being built in 1962, completed in 1963 and is 60 years old. There are several reasons it is special to me, and I believe it should be preserved.

Whiskeytown Lake is located in Northern California in Shasta County. It is a manmade lake that is surrounded by forests and trees. There’s the lake and islands with campsites on them.

There are many reasons I believe Whiskeytown Lake should be preserved. One reason is because a lot of people enjoy it there. Another reason is it gets people out of the house and into nature. Finally, it provides a home for fish and other animals and wildlife.

My family and I have spent a lot of time there and have made many memories. First, we started boating there on the weekends. We go tubing, barbeque and swim together. Some people even fish there. Next, we started a tradition of going camping there with my cousins every summer. We set up our campsite and tent, and always have a campfire and make s’mores. Last, we also go down to the beach where we swim, play in the sand, visit the snack bar and pick out treats.

All in all, I love to spend time at Whiskeytown Lake. I look forward to visiting every summer. I hope others also get to experience it and make memories for years to come.

For more information about the Lassen National Forest follow us on Facebook @LassenNationalForest or X (formally known as Twitter) @LassenNF. Read the winning essays at