Young artist puts stamp on importance of trees

Many letters passing through the U.S. postal system will be displaying the artwork of 14-year-old Brian Hailes from Millville, Utah.

Brian, a member of the teachers quorum presidency in the Millville 3rd Ward, Providence Utah South Stake, was one of four winners in a national Environmental Stamp Design Contest. His stamp, along with those of the other three winners, was unveiled during a U.S. Postal Service ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 20. The ceremony was part of a celebration leading up to Earth Day.Brian's winning entry is a picture of a boy planting a tree. Postmaster General Marvin Runyon presented the winners with enlargements of their artwork as well as a sheet of their stamps, both matted and framed.

The contest process began for Brian a year ago when he made a routine trip to the Millville post office. The postmaster, Jean Parker, told him about the contest and gave him an entry form.

"I went home and started sketching pictures," Brian said in a Church News interview. "I came up with the idea of a boy planting the tree because I wanted something that would show planting trees instead of cutting them down."

The contest was a natural for Brian because of his aptitude for art and his concern for trees and forests since learning about them. "We're taught about that in school," he said. "I think it's important to conserve our environment. That shows respect for Heavenly Father's creations."

More than 150,000 youth entered the contest sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service and McDonald's restaurants. One of two Utah state winners, Brian advanced to the pool of 102 finalists. He was informed that he was one of the national winners last November and was able to travel to Washington, D.C., for the official announcement on Nov. 17.

One of his prizes was a $3,000 U.S. savings bond.

However, he said the biggest thrill was traveling to the nation's capital. While the trip in November was a short one, he said there was more time on the recent trip to tour the city and see the sites.

Brian, a student at South Cache Freshman Center, said his friends were excited for him and were excited to see his stamp. The entire community expressed its pride by celebrating "Brian Hailes Day" on Saturday, April 29.

Brian's parents, Cynthia and Chuck Hailes, are also proud of their son's achievement. His father said he is loaded with talent and is able to focus on a project once he decides to do it.

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