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5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest

The 2020 5th grade Arbor Day Poster Contest theme was "Trees Feed NY" - check out the lesson plans and instructions below to include this in your classroom!

2019 Arbor Day Poster Contest Winner Julia Hou
and DEC's Urban and Community Forestry
Program Coordinator Gloria Van Duyne

This poster competition is for the local elementary school level. Each school's winning entry is then entered into a regional judging event. Nine regional champions are chosen and from these a final, statewide winner is selected. The state winner will be invited to celebrate in Albany at the annual Arbor Day celebration and have a tree planted in their name at their school. Various other prizes are awarded to the state winning student and his/her school. The New York State winner also receives the honor of having their artwork replicated as the NYS 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster, which is distributed to schools and libraries all over the state. Approximately 2,000 students from around the state participate each year.

By participating in the annual Arbor Day poster contest, students learn about the importance of trees and how they affect the health and well being of our environment and the quality of life in our communities.

We encourage collaboration between art and science teachers for this poster contest!

On this page:

2020 Poster Theme - "Trees Feed NY"

The 2020 poster contest closed in December, 2019.

A variety of our favorite foods come from trees around the world. Without trees, we couldn't have maple syrup, apple pie, almonds - even chocolate! Trees all over New York State produce food products that nourish New Yorkers and are sold and consumed worldwide. Apples, peaches, cherries and maple syrup are all produced in New York State.

Trees feed people and wildlife alike:

  • NY has 52,000 acres of apple trees, producing 29.5 million bushels of apples on average!
  • NY has 3350 acres of cherry trees. The average cherry tree produces 7,000 cherries a year!
  • NY produced over 800,000 gallons of maple syrup last year.
  • Oak trees feed 534 different kinds of insects, mostly caterpillars. These insects are critical food for song birds and their young.
  • More than 100 species of vertebrates rely on acorns for food, including game species like deer and turkey.

Poster Contest Rules

New York State 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest Rules

  1. Each school should select a school winner and submit the original poster with the School Winner Report Form (PDF).
  2. Submit entry by designated deadline (December 20th, 2019) to your NYS Regional DEC Office Poster contest contact. Homeschool students are welcome to participate.
  3. All entries must be original artwork created by a student who is currently in the fifth grade. A student may enter the contest only once.
  4. Entries must be done on paper with sufficient clarity to allow for duplication, display, and framing. The final winner's artwork will be made into a poster to be printed and distributed statewide.
  5. The student's first and last name must be written or signed in the lower right-hand corner on the front of the poster.
  6. Entries may be done in marker, crayon, paint pens, watercolor, ink, acrylic, colored pencil, and/or tempera paint.
  7. Collages are not acceptable. (Do not glue anything on your poster.)
  8. Computer or photo generated art and/or printing is not acceptable.
  9. Entries should not display the names of commercial products, companies, organizations or copyrighted characters.
  10. Entries must be no smaller than 8 ½" x 11" and no larger than 14" x 18."
  11. The poster must be related to the contest theme in some way. The theme must be on the poster. All words must be spelled correctly.
  12. Entries should not be matted, mounted, laminated, framed, or folded.

Tips for a Winning Poster

  • Use eye-catching colors, but in moderation
  • Write clearly

Vocabulary and Lesson Plans for "Trees Feed NY"


Photosynthesis: the process by which a plant uses the energy from the light of the sun to produce its own food
Fruit: the part of a plant that holds the seeds
Seed: a small, usually hard part of a plant from which a new plant can grow
Sap: the liquid that carries food to all parts of a plant
Producer: organisms that that make their own food

Suggested Lesson Plans

These lesson plans connect trees and the resources they provide to New York State learning standards.

How trees work for us - Take a look! from Boreal Forest (leaves DEC website). This webpage covers the services that trees provide from habitat to food. It includes an activity to inspire students to think about everything trees do for us with suggested variations.

Discover the importance of diverse forest ecosystems (PDF) from Arbor Day Foundation (leaves DEC website). This lesson from a past Arbor day poster contest teaches students about forest habitats and the different kinds of forests. Though it talks about tropical forests, it can be adapted to NYS forests.

Discover how trees grow and function (PDF) from Arbor Day Foundation (leaves DEC website). This lesson from a past Arbor day poster contest teaches students about the ecology and life of trees.

Additional Resources for Teachers

Julia Hou's winning design for the
2019 contest theme, "Habitats for Bats"

For general tree-related lesson plan ideas, visit Project Learning Tree (leaves DEC website) or the National Wildlife Federation (leaves DEC website).


These activities satisfy NYSED Grade 5 Science Learning Standards #4 & 7; Art Learning Standards #1 & 2; and several Math Learning Standards:


Contest Contact Information by DEC Region

For more information about the annual Arbor Day poster contest or to get a copy of the 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster, contact a DEC Forester near you.

Region Forester Name Address Contact
1 John Wernet NYS DEC
50 Circle Road
Stony Brook, NY 11790
(631) 444-0285
2 Tim Wenskus NYS DEC
47-40 21st St
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 482-4942
3 George Profous NYS DEC
21 South Putt Corners Rd
New Paltz, NY 12561
(845) 256-3000
4 Scott Moxham NYS DEC
1130 North Westcott Rd
Schenectady, NY 12306
(518) 357-2136
5 Jeff Speich NYS DEC
232 Golf Course Rd, P.O. Box 220
Warrensburg, NY 12885
(518) 623-1270
6 Glen Roberts NYS DEC
7327 State Route 812
Lowville, NY 13367
(315) 376-3521
7 Andy Goeller NYS DEC
1285 Fisher Avenue
Cortland, NY 13045-1012
(607) 674-4036 x603
8 Garrett Koplun NYS DEC
6274 East Avon-Lima Rd
Avon, NY 14414
(585) 226-2466
9 Patrick Marren NYS DEC
270 Michigan Ave
Buffalo, NY 14203
(716) 851-7046