North Carolina’s oldest forest conservation organization

Forest Products Week Essay Contest

Did you know wood is the only natural resource on Earth that is renewable, recyclable and biodegradable?

In North Carolina, the forest products industry plants over 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.

Unlike fossil fuels, metals and plastics, wood can be harvested, used, regrown and harvested again and again in a never-ending cycle. With proper forest management, we can enjoy thousands of products and still have plenty of trees for wildlife habitat, clean air and water, recreation and aesthetic beauty today and in the future.

In 1960, Congress has passed a resolution during the third week of October to “focus attention on the importance of our forests and forest products to the Nation’s economy and welfare.” Each year since the current President of the United States has issued a proclamation designating the week.

To celebrate Forest Products Week, the North Carolina Forestry Association along with its sponsors are hosting a statewide essay contest to promote the 1,000 companies directly contributing to North Carolina’s forest economy.

Writing Prompts and Essay Length Guidelines

Grade Level

Elementary (3rd-5th)

Essay Length

350 words or less

Writing Prompt

Explore a tree in your backyard, neighborhood, or on school campus. What signs of wildlife do you see? Is your tree healthy? What species is your tree? Write an informative report detailing your observations.

Grade Level

Middle (6th-8th)

Essay Length

400 words or less

Writing Prompt

Research an everyday product made from trees in North Carolina. Describe how it is made, and how the item has helped you in your daily life.

Grade Level

High (9th-12th)

Essay Length

500 words or less

Writing Prompt

The N.C. Forest Service will be sharing the benefits of good fire in 2021. Research prescribed fire and explain how this best management practice benefits the forest.

Teacher Requirements

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

Due Date

Essays will be due on the last day of National Forest Products Week (October 23, 2020.) Essays must be received by 5:00 pm on Friday, October 23, 2020. Students and teachers of winning essays will be notified by December 7. Please look to our website and social media pages for announcements.

Submitting Your Essay

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a large portion of North Carolina students remote learning this semester, our submission process has changed for the 2020 year.

  • Teachers submitting essays on behalf of students will send one email with attached essays saved as individual word documents/scanned documents/pdf to [email protected]. Include “2020 Forest Products Week Essay Contest” as your subject header.
  • Students or parents submitting essays on behalf of students should send one email with attached essay saved as a word document/scanned documents/pdf to [email protected]. Include “2020 Forest Products Week Essay Contest” as your subject header.

*if you or your students are using Google Docs as your virtual platform, please convert the document to a .pdf or .docx file. This can be done by selecting File->Download-> then selecting .pdf or .docx.* Example here.

Essays should have the contact information included at the bottom of their essay. See attached:

Essays can be typed or handwritten and must be e-mailed to NCFA for consideration.

Typed essays must use Times New Roman size 12 or 14 and saved as word documents.

Hand written essays must have legible handwriting with pen/pencil dark enough to appear when the document is scanned.

Judging Criteria

Essays will be graded using a standardized Analytic Rubric.

Winning essays will include the following:

  • Express the individual’s ideas and thoughts.
  • Spelling, grammar and neatness. Essays can be typed.
  • Creativity
  • Negative and or ‘Doom and Gloom’ scenarios discouraged


Top essays will be selected from the elementary, middle, and high school categories. All three winners will each receive a $200 Visa gift card. The teacher of the winning essay 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.

Resources for Writing Great Essays




Winning Essays

Special thanks to our sponsors; the N.C. Forest Service and the North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee.

 Forest Products Week Essay Contest
 Forest Products Week Essay Contest
 Forest Products Week Essay Contest