By Derek Lirange
Tower Hill staff
Each year the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) holds an Arbor Day Poster Contest for 5th grade students all throughout the state. Worcester Tree Initiative, a Tower Hill Botanic Garden program, harnesses the excitement that the contest creates to promote excitement about trees throughout schools in the area. The contest has a different theme each year to encourage students to think about the many ways that trees impact our lives all throughout the state. This year’s theme is “Trees Have Mass Appeal.”
For the past two years Worcester Tree Initiative has promoted participation in this contest by creating awareness of it in the elementary schools in our area and by offering to visit schools and present a program centered around the contest. The program is designed to get students excited about trees using the poster contest theme as an impetus to dig deeper. By helping them explore some of the depth of the intricate relationships between different kinds of trees and between trees and people they grow more invested in the environment. One of the highlights of the program is an activity where the students take on the role of an urban forester and think about how they would promote diverse tree plantings throughout the landscape in different kinds of settings to meet a variety of needs.
The DCR allows one submission per school so each school is encouraged to hold a contest of its own and to select a winner from the school to go to the statewide contest. All entries are due by March 15, 2019, to leave time for the statewide judging and subsequent award ceremony centered around Arbor Day at the end of April.
A full set of contest rules and a guide to create your own Poster Contest program are available online at https://www.mass.gov/guides/annual-arbor-day-poster-contest. If you are an educator or a parent we hope you will encourage your school to get involved in this fun way to celebrate Arbor Day.