2019 Strawberry Princess Avery Hartl

This year’s Strawberry Festival court personifies the festival’s theme, “Strawberry Adventure.” From overnight kayak trips to riding the biggest drop slide, the court is filled with adventures that help define who they are and who they will become.

Avery Hartl, 17, finds adventure in the wonder of the world. From cooking delicious meals to appreciating the beauty of the underwater landscape, she expresses gratitude for all these pleasures.

Cooking is one of her biggest passions.

“You give me a cookbook and I’ll read it instantly,” she said.

She likes making fresh pasta, but her favorite dish to cook is a wild mushroom parmesan risotto with herb crusted chicken. When Avery learned a fellow court member has access to fresh goat ricotta cheese, she eagerly expressed interest in cooking with some of it.

But she doesn’t anticipate making a career from cooking. Instead, Avery wants to be a certified veterinary technician.

“I’ve wanted to do this since I was 3 years old,” she said. “I was always the little girl who, if a bird had dropped out of its nest or if it had a broken wing, I would pick it up and take it to Chintimini in Corvallis. I’m still that little girl. I just recently found a bat and wanted to take it over there because it was hurt.”

Being on court, she appreciates friendships she’s made with people such as Strawberrians President Dan Christensen, volunteers “Mr. and Mrs. G” (Mr. G. and Jenny Nasser), and a little girl named Autumn.

Avery attends East Linn Christian Academy, and volunteers wherever needed at her church. Whether it’s teaching Sunday school, helping with the Easter and Christmas programs, or cooking for the congregation, she is happy to help.

She sings and plays flute, is in band and Pep band, and participates in the school’s theater program as director, actor, and head of costumes and props.

She plans on getting her veterinary assistant license through Linn-Benton Community College, and then taking  courses for her CVT license while working at a veterinary clinic.

Two of Avery’s biggest adventures include trips to Hawaii and Europe.

In Hawaii, she visited family and did a little night swimming with manta rays. Avery said it was “a-maaazzzing!” – a typical expression for her.

“You could see the beautiful lights just over the water, and you’re way out in the ocean, and these giant manta rays with a huge wing span – they’re the gentle giants of the sea – would just come up against you and swim and eat plankton. It was the most amazing experience.”

She also went snorkeling.

“My favorite place is under water with those fish and the amazing colors. You just see how truly beautiful our world is.”

In Europe, she visited Hungary, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Austria. It was “a-maaazzzing!”

As a “huge Holocaust buff,” she was excited to visit Auschwitz.

“That was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. It’s a very emotional place. You feel a lot of emotions going in there, but it is so worth it. That was definitely my big adventure; not just traveling across the world, but emotionally. It stretched me leaps and bounds.”

On her bucket list is the desire to travel to China, Japan or Australia, but she’d also like to try free rock climbing some day.

Yet, for all the adventures found outside her hometown, Avery said she plans on staying in Lebanon for the rest of her life.

“There are so many things I just adore about Lebanon. I love how close we are. But I think my favorite thing about Lebanon is the relationships you create. Truly incredible friendships have been formed.”