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Arbor Day Poster Contest

Arbor Day Poster Contest

Join 5th grade students and teachers across the state in submitting original artwork for the annual Arbor Day poster contest by the Indiana DNR Division of Forestry’s Community and Urban Forestry program (CUF) and Indiana Project Learning Tree. Discover the important role of trees in Indiana’s urban and forest communities with annual themes designed to grow students’ understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of the trees around them. If you have any questions, please contact the CUF at

How to Enter:

  1. Students create their own posters
    Explore this year’s theme with 5th grade students in the classroom and ask them to create a poster reflecting the theme and their own understanding of the importance of trees and forests.
  2. Select a schoolwide winner
    Gather your student’s posters and select a winner through a judging panel of school staff, students, parents, and/or tree professionals. You may consider reaching out to your community’s tree board, city arborist, environmental nonprofit organizations, or local nurseries for tree professionals to see if they are interested in helping. Students who attend nonparticipating schools or are home-schooled may submit posters individually.
  3. Submit your school’s winner to the Indiana DNR Division of Forestry
    Scan your winning poster and include the following Contest Entry Form with the poster. Submit to with the subject line “Arbor Day Poster Contest Entry”. The deadline for entry is March 1, 2024. Winners will be announced by April 12, 2024.

Contest Theme 2024 – Oak Trees: Superheroes of the Forest

Did you know oaks are the national tree of the United States? Indiana has approximately 17 native species of oaks that are incredibly important to the future of our forests. Oaks are a keystone species group, meaning that they have a large effect on the surrounding ecosystem. Here are just a few of oaks’ amazing superpowers:

  • Producing acorns, which feed an abundance of wildlife like squirrels, turkeys, and deer
  • Host and feed hundreds of species of moth and butterfly caterpillars
  • Shelter wildlife in their leaves, trunks, and even platy bark
  • Withstand disturbances like fire and drought with their robust root system
  • Filter nitrates and other pollutants out of water
  • Sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Provide strong, high-quality wood for the more than 70,000 Hoosiers with jobs in the wood products industry

Oaks are amazing trees that do so much for our forests’ health, biodiversity, and resiliency. We encourage teachers to engage their students with this super species group by introducing this theme into your classroom. Below are some lesson plans and resources to help, including a list of the Indiana Science and Art Standards you can meet by fully participating in this contest.

  • Alignment to Indiana 5th Grade Academic Standards for Science (5-LS2-1; 5-ESS3-1) and Visual Arts (Anchor Standards 1-8)
  • Project Learning Tree:
    • Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education program designed for educators of youth of all ages. Engage your students in learning about the environment through the lens of trees and forests. Explore the Project Learning Tree website for free resources and curriculum offerings.
    • Questions about PLT? Contact Indiana PLT coordinator Lexi Eiler at
  • Arbor Day Foundation
    • The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to tree-planting, urban forestry, and education to solve issues of climate change, community, and biodiversity. Explore the Arbor Day website to learn more about its programs and resources.
    • See the Arbor Day Foundation’s Learning Hub for its Tree Campus K-12 program for a curation of free and paid curriculum resources and classroom activities.
    • Get some inspiration for classroom tree topics from the Arbor Day Foundation and access the learning materials in Carly’s Kids Corner!

Contest Prizes

1st Place: The student who creates the winning poster will receive a gift card, a book for continuing their exploration of trees, and an Indiana native tree planting at their school. The winning student’s teacher will receive a kit of educational materials to support their class’s further engagement with Indiana trees, forests, and forestry, as well as a full scholarship to the Natural Resources Teacher Institute (more info below). The winning poster and student will also be featured on the Indiana Division of Forestry Facebook page and website.

2nd and 3rd Place: Students who place 2nd and 3rd in the statewide competition will each receive a book for continuing their exploration of trees and recognition on the Indiana Division of Forestry’s Facebook page. Teachers of these students will also receive a kit of educational materials to support their class’s further engagement with Indiana trees, forests, and forestry.

Contest Rules:

  1. Eligibility: All Indiana 5th grade students are eligible to enter their school’s poster contest. Each school may submit only one poster to the statewide contest. All schools are eligible to enter the statewide contest, including homeschools.
  2. Originality: Poster must be original artwork, no collages, no use of cartoon characters or television figures (many of these figures are copyrighted and cannot be reprinted).
  3. Medium: Posters may be drawn using markers, crayons, paint pens, watercolor, ink, acrylic, colored pencils, and/or tempera paints. Keep in mind that the poster must be digitized to be submitted.
  4. Theme: The contest theme, Oak Trees: Superheroes of the Forest, must be on the poster, and the poster should be related to the theme in some meaningful way. Words on the entry should be legible and spelled correctly. Any included tree facts should be true, accurate, and verifiable.
  5. Entry Form: Please fill out and submit one contest entry form for school-winning entries in the statewide competition. Please have students print their names in the lower-right corner of the front of their poster.
  6. Sharing Permissions: Posters submitted become the property of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and may be used, without compensation, to promote future contests and other urban forest outreach programs.

Natural Resources Teacher Institute:

The Indiana Natural Resources Teacher Institute is a multi-day professional development workshop that brings teachers from across the state to Morgan-Monroe State Forest to see, firsthand, how forestry works in Indiana. Sessions include tours of public and private forest lands, forest industry facilities, and forestry research in Indiana.

The Natural Resources Teacher Institute emphasizes the importance of the conservation of natural resources, giving special attention to Indiana’s forests and forest products. The project-based approach integrates hands-on study of the natural and cultural resources of the local community and addresses concepts in ecology, sense of place, civics, economics and forest land management, and stewardship. Participants will earn 30+ Professional Growth Points and receive a stipend upon completion and implementation of a lesson plan inspired by the week’s activities. We link the concepts to the Indiana Learning Standards and provide training in the Project Learning Tree curriculum.

The 2024 Natural Resources Teacher Institute is scheduled for June 24-28, 2024. For more information, please email Lexi Eiler, forestry education specialist, at

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