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Eight grader wins college scholarship for governor essay

From left: Principal Sherry Barton, student Shelbie Martin and Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson. Shelbie Martin, an eighth grader at Baker County Middle School, won the 2012 Governor’s Recognition Scholarship Essay contest sponsored by Florida PrePaid College Foundation.

Students in three Florida counties were asked to submit essays about one Florida governor.

Ms. Martin is the daughter of Jeni and Shawn Martin of Glen St. Mary. As the winner, she receives a full scholarship to any state college in Florida.

Only 13 years old, Ms. Martin doesn’t yet know where she will attend school but says, “It’ll be somewhere close to home.”

Ms. Martin was working as an assistant in the school’s media center December 16 when she received a surprise visit from BCMS principal Sherry Barrett and school district Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson.

The teen was shocked by the news of her award but quickly recovered. Her language arts teacher Greta Elledge, however, who arrived a few minutes after the news, was nearly overwhelmed with excitement.

“Nobody deserves it more,” she said, almost tearful as she hugged her student. “I know this girl’s potential and now she has the vehicle to pursue it!”

Ms. Martin explained why she chose to write about Governor Fuller Warren.

“He was the one I was most familiar with,” she said. “He did a lot of things for Florida that helped the state with forestry and environmental issues.”

A model student, Ms. Martin’s favorite subject is reading. She received a perfect 500 score on the most recent FCAT reading tests and was the student with the highest Accelerated Reader points while a fourth grader at Keller Intermediate. In 2010 she was the school district’s spelling bee winner, which qualified her to compete in the regional spelling bee hosted by The Florida Times-Union.

Her hobbies are playing volleyball and dancing as a member of Christian Fellowship Temple’s Image Breakers team. She also loves caring for her many pets including a one-eyed gopher tortoise named Franklin.

She hopes to work someday in a veterinarian’s office as an accountant.

Ms. Martin’s winning essay:

In January of 1949, Florida’s 30th governor delivered his inaugural address. Governor Fuller Warren Stated, "Today I begin carrying out the covenant that I made with the people during the campaign . . . Florida is faced with many terrific problems. They must be met and mastered."

Governor Warren inherited many problems in our state, but this was no problem for him; he was a man of humble beginnings and a World War II veteran and was used to overcoming obstacles with hard work. 

Fuller Warren was born in Blountstown, Florida, on October 3, 1905, and he was one of seven children. He attended the local public school and went on to graduate from the University of Florida. In 1930, he received a law degree from Cumberland University. He served in the State House of Representatives in 1927 and 1939. In 1948 he became Florida’s governor.

During his time in office, Governor Warren faced many challenges and celebrated great accomplishments. Free-grazing on Florida’s highways was outlawed and thus reduced automobile accidents and fatalities. He also initiated plans for the Florida turnpike, established quality control for Florida citrus and started Florida’s reforestation program. Of all his accomplishments the one that stands out is his efforts to save our state’s forests.

By 1930, Florida’s forests had been greatly depleted by companies that did not replant. Within just a few decades, the 19.2 million acres of pine forest had dwindled to 7.5 acres.

Governor Warren reacted by starting the reforestation program. Our forests were saved and Floridians have benefitted ever since that time in many different ways. Directly and indirectly almost 200,000 jobs in Florida are a result of our forestry system and the forests contribute around $6 billion annually to the state’s economy.

Also Florida’s forest lands provide ecological benefits such as purification of air and water, creation of wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.

Why does governor Warren’s reforestation effort mean so much to me? I live in a rural community. Many residents of my county, including family members and friends, are employed in jobs that depend on a healthy forestry system. On a very personal level, I live in an area surrounded by forest lands.

Every day of my life I get to witness and experience the habitat created by our forests. I start my day with birds calling to each other right outside my window. In addition, my state’s well-being is greatly reliant upon a forest system that helps with the pollution created by its inhabitants as it filters our air and helps purify out water.

In conclusion, I feel Governor Fuller Warren impacted our state and my life in a significant way. Thanks to his reforestation efforts, our state has a thriving forestry system that we enjoy today and that will still exist for future generations.

Like me, Governor Warren was one of several children and attended public schools. He inspired me because of our similarities. If he can grow up to accomplish such lasting and monumental things, so can I.”

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