Ensures Healthy, Productive, and Sustainable Forests

Forest Products Week Essay Contest

In North Carolina, the forest products industry plants more than 60 million trees each year. Those trees are then turned into more than 5,000 wood and paper products that we use and enjoy each day—everything from baby food and ice cream, to rayon and paint, to toothpaste, cosmetics, medicine, and household cleaners.

In 1960, Congress passed a resolution to establish a Forest Products Week each year in October. The purpose of this is to “focus attention on the importance of our forests and forest products to the nation’s economy and welfare.” Each year since, the sitting President of the United States has issued a proclamation designating the week.

To celebrate Forest Products Week in 2022, the NCFA, along with its sponsors, host a statewide essay contest to help students draw the connection between our forests and our everyday products.

Writing Prompts and Essay Length Guidelines

Grade Level

Elementary (3rd-5th)

Essay Length

350 words or less

Writing Prompt

Choose one product you use every day that is made from wood. How does this product help you? Why is it important? How would your life change if you did not have this product?

Grade Level

Middle (6th-8th)

Essay Length

400 words or less

Writing Prompt

Imagine you are a landowner that owns a large forest. Decide if you want to manage your trees for wildlife habitat, recreation, timber production, or a combination of all three. Research forest management techniques used by professionals. Then, write your version of a forest management plan that summarizes why you are growing trees and how you will use each of the techniques to grow a healthy, productive forest.

Grade Level

High (9th-12th)

Essay Length

500 words or less

Writing Prompt

Have you considered a green job as a career? Complete the Find your Green Job Youth Personality Quiz (email Jessica Ireland for access codes). Then, research one of the careers that matches your personality. Summarize the role and include answers to the following questions.

  1. What education/experience do I need?
  2. What skills will I use?
  3. What do I find most interesting about this role?
  4. Why is this job important?
  5. Why did I choose this job?

If you prefer a printable copy of the quiz, click here to download.

Due Date

Essays will be due on the last day of National Forest Products Week (October 21, 2022). Essays must be postmarked or received by 5:00pm on Friday, October 21, 2022.

The NCFA will notify students and teachers of winning essays by Friday, December 9, 2022.

Teacher Requirements

For teachers that are using the essay contest as a class assignment, you are required to prescreen essays and select up to five essays per class. If teachers lead multiple sections of a course, you can send the five essays per class section. Please do not send a classroom set of essays.

Submitting your Essay

Options for submission include email or mail. See below for further details.


  • Email essays as a (.doc, .docx, PDF) attachment to Jessica Ireland
  • Include “2022 Forest Products Week Essay Contest” as the subject
  • DO NOT SEND: Images (.jpg or .png) or Google Docs links - *if you or your students are using Google Docs, please convert the document to a PDF or .docx file by selecting File->Download-> then selecting PDF or .docx.* Example here.


  • Mail to 1600 Glenwood Avenue, Ste I, Raleigh, NC 27608 postmarked by Friday, October 21, 2022

Include the contact information form at the bottom of each essay. NCFA will not consider essays with missing contact information.

Essay Format

  • Essays can be typed or handwritten
  • Typed essays must use Times New Roman or Arial size 12 or 14 point
  • Electronic submissions must be sent as a .doc, .docx, or PDF
  • Hand-written essays must have legible handwriting with dark pen or pencil

Judging Criteria

Essays will be graded by a panel of judges using a standardized Analytic Rubric. Consider the following:

  • Student correctly answers the question and provides evidence to support.
  • Student uses sound sources and provides citations. Do not plagiarize!
  • Student provides a thorough explanation that expresses the individual’s ideas and thoughts. Creativity is encouraged within the parameters of the prompt.
  • Student uses correct spelling, grammar, and attempts neatness. Essays can be typed.
  • Negative and or ‘Doom and Gloom’ scenarios are discouraged.


Top essays will be selected from the elementary, middle, and high school categories.

  • Students will receive a $200 Visa gift card.
  • The sponsoring teacher will also receive $100 Visa gift card for classroom materials and a scholarship to attend the Sustainable Forestry Teachers Experience the next calendar year.
    • Prizes will be delivered during the month of December. The NCFA would appreciate the opportunity to say congratulations virtually or in person. Teachers are welcome to add an outreach presentation to the award ceremony.

Resources for Writing Great Essays

For research and additional resources, please visit our Forestry Education Google Drive

Winning Essays

Special thanks to the N.C. Forest Service and the North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee for sponsoring the essay contest!