Keizer fifth-grader takes aim at pollution as Kid Governor finalist

Kate Moisan’s foray into politics started with a bike ride around her neighborhood.

The Keizer student was out with her dad and brother when she almost ran over a dead squirrel. It got Moisan, then 7, thinking about animal welfare and pollution.

“I just don’t like seeing dead animals,” she said.

The issue became the focus of her campaign for Oregon’s Kid Governor, a civics education program run by the Oregon Secretary of State. Fifth-graders can nominate one student per school for the role, and vote between seven finalist candidates to decide on their governor for the year.

Moisan, who attends Optimum Learning Environment Charter School, didn’t win the election, which concluded last week, but was among the finalists. She’ll sit on the 2023 cabinet for Kid Governor Lea Andrus of Sherwood alongside five other students, working to advance her platform.

“It will be an awesome experience,” the 10-year-old said.

Kate Moisan, 10, a fifth-grader at Forest Ridge Elementary in Keizer, is a 2023 finalist Oregon Kid Governor.

Moisan’s interest in environmental issues and pollution was nurtured by her Girl Scout troop, which she joined in third grade. She said she wanted to learn life skills and has enjoyed the opportunity to help her community.

As part of her troop, she’s painted faces at the Salem Art Fair and Festival, made Valentine’s Day cards for seniors and collected menstrual products through a drive for those in need.

Moisan said her troop leaders have emphasized leave no trace ethics in the outdoors, including fire safety, picking up trash so animals don’t eat it and not disturbing insects.

“You have to leave the bugs alone even though they’re really cool looking,” she said.

Her parents have also fostered care for the environment, she said.

Moisan’s Kid Governor platform has three actions fellow fifth graders can take on to help address pollution and animal welfare: pick up trash, adopt an animal through programs with local zoos or aquariums, and make their yards friendly to animals.

She said she wanted to focus on things that are easy for fifth graders to do. 

Moisan has adopted an otter, Nuka, through the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport and gets regular updates on his life.

She’s helped her family add a bird feeder to their yard and especially enjoys the family’s peach-colored roses.

“It’s been exciting to see all the animals that come to our yard,” she said.

Moisan said her classroom teacher, Ryan Ellis, was “really supportive” of her campaign, helping her film her video.

She plans to organize litter clean-ups as part of her work on the governor’s cabinet over the coming year.

Though she wanted to win the race, Moisan said ultimately she’s happy not having the title and still believes she can make progress on her platform.

“Now that I think about it, Kid Governor would be too much for me,” she said.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

JUST THE FACTS, FOR SALEM – We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe to Salem Reporter. Click I want to subscribe!

Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.