2019 Strawberry Festival Court: Princess Isabella Ayala

This year’s Strawberry Festival court personifies the festival’s theme, “Strawberry Adventure.” From a wintery trip to Mount Rushmore to swimming with manta rays, the court is filled with adventures that help define who they are and who they will become.

Isabella Ayala, 18, finds adventure in the world around her.

She enjoys outdoor activities, such as kayaking, hiking, and running on trails, but also has a “nerdy” side because she really thinks math and science are fun.

That’s why she plans on attending Oregon State University to major in chemistry.

“I think I want to be a high school teacher, possibly math and science, but probably focusing on chemistry. I also want to be a high school track and cross country coach.”

But her adventures are just a little off the beaten track.

“The most adventurous thing I’ve done is when I went on a kayak trip from Eugene to Albany,” she said. “We had to spend overnight in our kayaks on the side of the river.”

Growing up, she joined forces with her neighbors in camouflaged BB gun fights (which may or may not have involved their homemade zip line and tree houses).

Oh, and she goes cliff jumping into water with her brother.

Her bucket list includes hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada and running a marathon, with one caveat.

“I want to run a marathon while pregnant. Not super pregnant, but a little bit pregnant, just so I can say I did it.”

Isabella participated in cross country, swimming and track teams all four years of high school. She’s student body president, tutors kids in math and science, is a chemistry lab assistant, and is in the National Honor Society.

She is president of Lucky Livestock 4-H club, and has been showing sheep at the Linn County Fair for nine years.

At her church, she’s an elector and does readings and helps with kids. She will be valedictorian at graduation this year.

Isabella likes Lebanon because it’s a small community, she said. She was able to gain a deeper appreciation for small towns after a recent trip via the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association.

Representing the state of Oregon in the leadership council, she met students of other rural communities from across the United States as they traveled to Washington, D.C. and Florida.

“I got to know what a lot of other rural communities are like and how important they are to our society,” she said.

While she appreciates Lebanon’s small town feel, and how everyone is tight-knit and wants to help each other all the time, she does notice the city is changing, she said.

“I do like how it’s changing; like with downtown, I’ll drive through and it’s poppin’, like stuff’s happenin’.”

As a lifeguard and swim instructor at Lebanon Community Pool, she’s starting to see more 20-somethings going swimming, and Isabella said it’s nice to see more “younger people” come to Lebanon.

“It’s important to have younger people in this community, and not just the kids graduating high school and leaving town.”