Sixteen-year-old Emily Perez, a Pueblo, CO, Centennial High School sophomore and outstanding member of that school’s track team, was recently named winner of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee’s “Healthy Choice” essay contest.
For her essay entitled “Loving Healthy Colorado Potatoes,” the student athlete received an Adventure Pack valued at $300. The pack contained redeemable gift cards which enable Perez to continue her “healthy and active lifestyle and having fun… at the same time.”
In addition, Pueblo Centennial language arts teacher Marla Vivoda, who submitted Perez’ and other students’ essays for the contest, received $300 in cash.
Describing her “reliance and love for Colorado potatoes – russets, Colorado Rose, Sangres, Yukon Golds, Fingerlings or Purple Majesty,” Perez says that she runs competitively.
“For the past three years before each race I ritually dined on a baked potato for a healthy burst of energy,” the young athlete wrote. “I love Colorado potatoes because not only do they satisfy my hunger needs, but more importantly they taste good and contribute to a healthy athlete’s diet.”
Part of the Colorado Healthy Potato Curriculum program that was launched several years ago, the essay contest was announced in late October through a letter from CPAC Executive Director Jim Ehrlich. Ehrlich cited a meeting he had attended that featured Colo. Sen. Mark Udall, who said, “If you eat, you are involved with agriculture.”
Ehrlich went on to tell educators that Colorado students “need to learn the story… of American agriculture and the farmers who produce the breakfast, lunch and dinner we enjoy daily.”
He added that Colorado’s San Luis Valley, home of CPAC and its 28 potato grower/shipper members, is home to 175 farmers who “typically produce nearly 2.2 billion pounds of potatoes annually.”
Deadline for student essays was Dec. 15, and more than 200 entries were received by the judges at CPAC.
Perez was notified she took top honors in mid-April, and her photo will be the focal point of the 2013-14 Colorado Healthy Potato Curriculum poster, according to Linda Weyers, CPAC assistant director.
Perez’ entire essay has been posted on coloradopotato.org and on the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee’s Facebook page, where visitors can also find details about CPAC’s consumer summertime potato recipe contest.