UNION COUNTY, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders invites all student writers in grades 4-8 to participate in the 2016 Union County Arbor Day Poetry Contest. The contest is held each year in advance of Arbor Day in partnership with the Union County Shade Tree Advisory Board, to help foster an appreciation for the role of trees in the environment.

“The Freeholder Board is very proud of all the writers who have participated in our contest over the years,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “Like many Union County residents I have some very special childhood memories of playing outdoors and enjoying the fresh air. That attachment gains depth when you realize how our treescape contributes to a diverse habitat and helps to sustain healthy neighborhoods.” 

Studies have shown that trees improve property values and provide many other civic benefits while providing a cooling effect in summer, absorbing airborne pollutants, preventing soil erosion, and helping to alleviate flooding.

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Students who are interested in entering the contest can enter through their school, which then submits the completed poems to the Shade Tree Advisory Board.

The poems can be written in any style or structure on the theme of the role that trees play in our natural environment and constructed landscapes.

“The poetry contest provides younger students with a creative, positive experience that can encourage them to focus on environmental studies as they progress through school,” said Bergen.

One winner will be chosen for first, second, and third place at each grade level.  The winners will be invited to attend an awards ceremony at the Union County Administration Building in Elizabeth at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, where they will be publicly recognized by Union County and presented with a monetary reward and a certificate. 

The deadline for schools to return the student entry forms and poems is Thursday, March 24.

For details contact Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County 4-H Agent and Chair of the Union County Shade Tree Advisory Board James Nichnadowicz, (908) 654-9854 or jnichnadowicz@ucnj.org.