POLK COUNTY -- Trevor Whitaker, a sophomore at Central High School, won first prize in the Polk County Women for Agriculture's first Constitutional Essay Contest.

The question presented to Polk County high school students was, "Which do you think is the most important amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights, and why?"

Whitaker won with his essay on the importance of the Second Amendment, which insures that every citizen maintains the right to keep and bear arms.

"When our freedom as citizens is taken away, everything meaningful about our country goes with it. ... The second amendment exists not only to protect the people, but also to protect the rest of the Bill of Rights," he wrote.

Whitaker won $300 for his winning essay.

Erin Pressel, a 16-year-old home-schooled student from Dallas, was the second-place winner. She chose the First Amendment as the most important, as did third-place winner Erica Brown, a senior at Central High.

The Western Institute for Nature, Resources, Education and Policy (WINREP) donated two books on the Constitution and the Federalist Papers written by Mary E. Webster, South Beach, Ore., for each of the top three winners, as well as a pocket Constitution for each of the winner's history/civics classmates.

More information on Polk County Women for Agriculture is available on the Oregon Women for Agriculture website, www.owaonline.org.

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