If you or someone you know is a local grade-school teacher looking for a cool classroom project to do with your students, it may be time to bust out your brightest markers, paint, crayons, and chalk.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has just announced the 4th and 5th Grade Arbor Day Artwork Contest, and the theme is "Healthy Trees, Healthy People."

The DEC's Urban Forestry Program needs to have your classroom submissions by December 10th, and aside from being a fun and interactive project, the winning submissions will be honored in a special calendar for all New Yorkers to see.

Here's what the winning entries get according to the NYS DEC:

"The designs from one state winner and 11 runner-ups will be selected to be featured in a calendar. Winning schools will receive calendars for their participating students. The state winner will also have a tree planted at their school and receive a framed copy of their poster."

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The 2021 theme is Healthy Trees, Healthy People and the website lists some idea generators as a guide for students to use when considering their project.  These ideas include:

  • Trees near our homes and in our parks help keep people healthy.
  • Trees give us shade, which cools us down in the summer and protects our skin from the sun.
  • Trees help us stay active - people exercise more in parks and streets where there are trees. Some trees are even fun to climb!
  • Trees care for your brain - kids who play in nature are more relaxed and focus better in school.
  • Trees help us breathe by taking pollution out of the air and giving back oxygen.
  • Trees feed us - some trees provide us with healthy and delicious fruits and nuts.

Posters and release forms must be received by December 10th,  2021 and you may mail them to:

NYSDEC
Attn: 4th/5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4255

According to the website, posters and completed release forms can be submitted electronically as well to arborday@dec.ny.gov - please note in the subject line "2021 4th and 5th Grade Arbor Day Artwork Contest."

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