Geography was a passion for Ethan Brendmoen, 13, before he was old enough to read. That passion is now taking him and his family to Western Oregon University in Monmouth on Friday to compete at the 2013 Oregon Geographic Bee.
"At a young age I liked looking at maps. It looked pretty cool but at that age I wasn't a good reader," Ethan said. "When I started reading, I got more interested in the literature of (geography)."
His parents, Julie Brendmoen-Crowe and Ty Crowe, had no idea the school was testing Ethan, a sixth grader at Azalea Middle School, for a state level competition and were shocked when the email came inviting them to the bee.
"This was kind of a surprise. It wasn't like there was a planned geography bee," Crowe said. "The school just gave them all a test."
Oregon schools with fourth through eighth grade students held individual Bees to crown the winner from each school. Those winners were then given a qualifying test and those results were sent to the National Geographic Society. The top 100 students in the state were then invited to Friday's Oregon Geographic Bee, hosted by the National Geographic Society.
Ethan is looking forward to representing Brookings in the competition. He plans to study his atlas books and to eat a good breakfast on Friday morning as preparation for the Bee.
"I am glad he is not nervous and not anticipating it," Brendmoen-Crowe said. "He has always been really confident so we are like, 'Just do your best.'"
Ethan is knowledgeable in many areas, but prefers learning about geography and science. His parents always knew he was smart and are really proud of Ethan for representing Brookings.
"He should put Brookings on the map, in my opinion," Crowe said. "Mr. Jeopardy right there. He knows just a lot about a lot."
The winner of the Oregon Geographic Bee will receive $100, the "Complete National Geographic on DVD" and a trip to Washington D.C. to represent Oregon at the national Bee in late May.
The Brookings Harbor Education Foundation donated money for the Brendmoen family to make the trip to the state Bee and they are very thankful for the assistance.
"We are very appreciative. It is nice to know they support him," Crowe said. "It was really nice to see that they were getting behind him."