K-12 Annual Essay/Poster Contest

Are you a K-12 public, private, or homeschooled student in Greenville County? Learn about conservation topics and submit an essay or poster in our annual conservation contest! Each year, students will focus on a specific topic related to stewardship.

New for 2021: Contest open to all grade levels!

Healthy Forests = Healthy Communities

Trees and forests are critical to providing clean air and water, healthy soil, abundant wildlife habitat and valuable products we use every day. They also promote mental, physical, and emotional health and have a huge positive impact on local economies! Healthy forests—those which support a variety of plants and animals and provide the things humans and other animals need to survive—promote healthy communities in several ways.

Contest Rules:

  • Student may submit either an essay or a poster for consideration
  • Entries must be the original work of an individual student (no team entries or copying other’s work)
  • Contest entries may be submitted digitally via our website or delivered to the GCSWCD office by mail or in person
  • All mailed/delivered entries must include a cover page with:
    • student name and home mailing address / email address (winners will be contacted by email)
    • name of school & teacher (if applicable) and grade level

Entries may address ANY OR ALL of the following:

  • What are the traits and qualities of a healthy forest?
  • How do forests affect you, your family, and the environment?
  • How do you contribute to the health of a forest?
  • What are ways everyone can help a forest stay healthy?
  • Who is in your community and how do they benefit from a healthy environment?

Up to three $25 awards available in each grade band for each contest category (essay/poster).

Entry Deadline: 4:30 PM on Thursday, October 28, 2021

Essay Contest Rules

Essay Word Count Requirements

K-1st 2nd-3rd 4th-6th 7th-9th 10th-12th
One paragraph 80-100 words 350-400 words 600-750 words 1000-1200 words
  • Essays should be typed for online submission
  • Handwritten (in ink) essays may be submitted by mail or in person to our office
  • Essays should be submitted in .pdf or as a Word document
  • BE CREATIVE! The winners each year have shown a level of creativity and content over and above the average. Tell a personal story or anecdote to make your essay stand out in a crowd.
  • Punctuation and grammar count! Make sure your essay is double checked for errors!
Poster Contest Rules
  • Allowable poster/image sizes are between 8.5"x11" and 14"x22".
  • The contest theme (Healthy Forests = Healthy Communities) must be on the front of the poster/image.
  • Student and school names should not appear on the front of the poster/image.
  • Any media may be used to create a 2D (flat) effect.
  • Poster judging criteria:
    • Conservation message of the theme (50 percent),
    • Visual effectiveness (30 percent),
    • Originality (10 percent),
    • Universal appeal (10 percent)
  • Once posters are complete, make a .pdf, .jpg, or .png of your entry to submit online.
  • If digital conversion/submission is not possible, entries may be delivered to the GCSWCD office.
  • Winning poster in each grade band will be submitted to the state competition. State winners will move on to National Contest.
Contest Resources

Teaching with iTree - Project Learning Tree’s Teaching with i-Tree unit includes three hands-on activities that help middle and high school students discover and analyze the many ecosystem services that trees provide. Students input data they collect into a free online tool that calculates the dollar value of the benefits provided by a tree, or a set of trees.


Questions about the essay or contest? 

Contact Lynn Pilewski at

864-920-6397 or  lpilewski@greenvillecounty.org