K-12 Idaho Student Essay Contest

The 2020 Idaho Student Essay Winners have been announced! 

Click here to see the list of winners and read their essays. 

National Forest Products Week

To celebrate National Forest Products Week (the 3rd full week in October) the Idaho Forest Products Commission sponsors a statewide essay contest. The essay contest encourages students to learn more about Idaho’s forests, build vocabulary and work toward mastering Idaho Content Standards. Cash prizes are awarded to winning writers and their classrooms!  



Who may enter?

All K-12 students in Idaho are eligible for the contest.

What are the requirements?

  • Scroll down for the Background Statement, Writing Prompts and Scoring Criteria.
  • Each essay must include the student name, teacher name, email, grade, school name and town.
  • Teachers: Submit only the top five essays per class. If you send more than five per class, the judges are unable to review your essays. Teachers with multiple sections of a class may send the top five essays per class section. Please include a list of all students who complete an essay, so we may provide a Certificate of Participation for every student.

What are the prizes?

Each winning essayist receives a certificate and a cash prize (K-2nd $25; 3rd-5th $50; 6-8th $75; 9-12th $100). The winner’s classroom receives $100, and their teacher receives a voucher to attend a Project Learning Tree workshop, plus posters and other resources. There is a string attached: The winning essayist must help decide how the class spends its cash award! Honorable mentions are named at each level. Every student receives a Certificate of Participation.

When are the essays due?

Essay submissions must be submitted online or postmarked by NOVEMBER 6, 2020.

What if I have questions?

Email plt@idahoforests.org or call 208-334-4061.

Idaho Content Standards. Encourage students to access different types of informational texts and use evidence to support their reasoning. Researching and writing this essay provides an opportunity to work on vocabulary, syntax, and development and organization of ideas.


Background Statement

We expect a lot from our forests. They provide clean air and water; beautiful places to play and relax; homes for birds, fish and other wildlife; energy savings; products for people; and jobs and revenues for local communities. Trees also help capture and store carbon, reducing negative impacts to climate. When trees are harvested, the wood products made from them continue to store carbon. One of the best things about trees is that they are a renewable resource. When trees are harvested, new ones grow or can be planted. With sustainable forestry practices, our forests can continue to provide their benefits for generations to come.

Writing Prompt for Grades K-5

Think about your daily life. Write an essay to a general audience sharing how tree and forest products touch your life, and why they are important to you. You may consider one forest product or a variety of products. (K-1st graders may use any media for their “essay.”)

Writing Prompt for Grades 6-12

Imagine that you are in charge of taking care of Idaho’s forests. According to the Idaho Forest Restoration Partnership, “In Idaho’s forests, strategic forest restoration is essential to address the current challenges posed by uncharacteristic wildfire, insects, disease and climate change.” Write an essay to a general audience discussing challenges faced by Idaho forests, and your recommendations for how forests should be managed for a sustainable future.

Grade levels and essay length guidelines
9th-12th graders: Up to 500 words 6th-8th graders: Up to 350 words
2nd-5th graders: Up to 250 words K-1st graders: May use any media
Scoring Criteria Subcategories Maximum points
Content accuracy
(35 points total)
Clearly relates to the topic. 10
Is accurate and logical. 15
Provides supporting details and/or examples.
If applicable, sources are cited.
Clear writing including grammar, spelling and punctuation.
(30 points total)
Grammar, spelling and punctuation is correct. 15
Information is organized, neatly typed or written and has well constructed paragraphs. 15
(25 points total)
Shows individual thinking skills. 25
Overall likeability
(10 points)
Reader was engaged by the writing and wanted to continue reading the essay. 10
(100 points)


Printer Friendly 2020 Student Essay Contest Guidelines


How should essays be submitted?

Please submit essays online using the form below.  You can also mail essays to:  IFPC Essay Contest, 350 N. 9th Street, No. 102, Boise, ID 83702

Before submitting!  Make sure that each essay includes teacher’s name and email; student’s full name; grade; school name and town.