In 2008, as in many previous years, the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree checked in for a three-night stay at National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. On November 21, the 70-foot tree from Montana’s Bitterroot Forest stopped at National 4-H Youth Conference Center before traveling to the U.S. Capitol to become the Capitol Christmas Tree (on the Capitol grounds, not the White House Ellipse). Chris Gabrielson, a 4-H member from Havre, MT, joined Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, to host the official lighting ceremony on December 2, 2008.
Each year, hundreds of students from the Capitol Christmas Tree’s home state enter the Capitol Christmas Tree drawing to receive a free trip to Washington, D.C. and assist the Speaker in lighting the tree. Gabrielson was the lucky winner of the 2008 drawing.
However, Gabrielson wasn’t the only 4-H’er involved with the Capitol tree that year, he and other students in the state of Montana (65 percent of whom were 4-H members) used recyclable materials to create over 5,000 handmade ornaments that decorated the tree. The ornaments reflected the theme “Sharing Montana’s Treasures.” Mountains, Moons and Stars, Big sky Country; Montana wild flowers, Montana’s Wildlife, and some included the 4-H Clover.