A 12-year-old Hermiston girl has won a free trip to Washington. D.C. after competing in a Girl Scout essay contest. The organization announced that Rachel Cruz is one of 12 winners in its Girl Scout Global Citizen Essay Contest.

"Girl Scouts has allowed me to learn abut different cultures and places," wrote Cruz in her essay. "It has also helped me know that I have the ability to make a difference in a family's life regardless of my age."

The essay contest encourages scouts to reflect on the meaningful experiences they've had through Girl Scouting and to connect the experiences with the wider world. Cruz wrote about her experience with the other girls of Troop 453, raising funds for a family living in Kosovo. The scouts used the proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie program to purchase a cow for the family through Heifer International.

Cruz will take her four-day educational trip to Washington, D.C., this month.

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