WEST PARIS — Agnes Gray Elementary School fourth-grader Alivia Deabler has been awarded Oxford Hills’ first Kathryn F. Daniels Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship was open to any student of the West Paris school who wrote an essay on how attending the 4-H camp at Bryant Pond would make them a better person.

Alivia Deabler, a fourth-grader at Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris, wrote the prize-winning essay that earned her tuition for a one-week session at the University of Maine 4-H Camp at Bryant Pond next summer. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Kathryn F. Daniels of West Paris passed away last fall. Her son Danny and three granddaughters Kylie, Janice and Heather wanted to honor her 40-year legacy as a 4-H leader through the community and decided the best way would be to provide the experience of attending a week-long summer session of Camp at Bryant Pond.

The family approached Cathy Bickford, principal of Agnes Gray, and asked if she would facilitate and judge a student essay contest. Bickford immediately agreed and announced the contest at school. The contest was open to all students.

Deabler’s essay covered a number of reasons why she believed going to 4-H camp would make her a better person. She highlighted her love of the outdoors and for activities like swimming. She also noted that she enjoyed learning about things like plants, trees and animals and she was concerned about the impact of things like litter on wild animals and on their habitats. She also wrote about what she hopes to learn while at camp, namely building fires and learning outdoor survival skills.

“I was surprised to win, I felt like someone else was going to win,” Deabler said.

Bickford said she chose Deabler as the winner because her writing was very good and she explained well why she felt she should attend the camp.


“You deserved to win,” Bickford said to her. “Writing is very powerful. It can get you places. I think you write very well.”

Deabler, who has never attended an overnight camp before, said she had gone to the 4-H camp at Bryant Pond once, for a one-day field trip. Her favorite activity that time was canoeing.

Together Bickford and Deabler reviewed the different program options week to week to choose which she might want to attend: junior woods craft, hunter safety archery and firearms, ATV safety, 4-H shooting, sports camp, junior Maine guide, junior explorer, treasure camp and aqua adventure.

With aqua adventure closely matching Deabler’s interests that she wrote about in her award-winning essay, swimming, boating, exploring aquatic wildlife and hiking in nature, she honed in on that week.

“That one looks cool,” she said. “I want to do that one, most likely.”

Alivia Deabler of West Paris has been awarded with the first Kathryn F. Daniels Memorial scholarship to attend the University of Maine 4-H Camp at Bryant Pond for writing the best essay about how attending the camp will make her a better person. Also pictured are Kathryn Daniels’ granddaughters Kylie Guy, left, and Janice Taylor. Supplied photo

Katherine Daniels’ granddaughter Kylie Guy told the Advertiser Democrat that creating the scholarship fund was a comforting way to grieve her loss. The family began planning and fundraising right away.


“When I was really missing her, I could work on this project for a while, and it was a positive way to feel better,” she told the Advertiser Democrat. “It costs around $675 for a week of 4-H camp. My grandmother loved the kids and 4-H so much, we wanted to make it possible for a West Paris child get to enjoy it, too.”

Among the the fundraising was a Christmas tree decorated with local business gift cards that the Daniels family raffled off at a Vikings girls’ basketball game, and a Valentine’s date night raffle of dinner for two at DaVinci’s, gas card, flowers and chocolate. They also established a Gofundme account to help collect money.

Guy said the family plans to expand the tuition scholarship to include other Oxford Hills communities and will also register it as a 501c3 organization to facilitate more resources.

In the mean time, they continue organizing events to support the scholarship fund. The next one up is PAINT the TOWN .me, which will take place at the Hydrant in South Paris on March. 25. Information about other events and the Kathryn Daniels memorial fund is available on Facebook at facebook.com/profile.php?id=100088040334089.

Comments are not available on this story.