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2020 Arbor Day Essay Contest Winners Selected

For immediate release: April 23, 2020

Media Contact: JaCee Aaseth, 605.773.4073


2020 Arbor Day Essay Contest Winners Selected


PIERRE, S.D. – Lila Johnson of Frankfort, Onassis Darnell of Carthage, and Jace Grimes of Kadoka are the winning essayists, selected from the 599 entries, in the 2020 Arbor Day Essay Contest.


The Arbor Day Essay Contest is sponsored by South Dakota’s conservation districts, McDonald’s Restaurant of Pierre, and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA). While children remain at home due to COVID-19, fifth and six grade students had the opportunity to enter this essay contest and write about the importance of Arbor Day and tree planting in South Dakota. This contest has been held in South Dakota for 43 years.


In addition to learning more about trees, the students win awards and cash prizes for their efforts. As the first-place winner, Johnson receives a plaque and $125 in cash. Her school, Hitchcock-Tulare Elementary School, will receive $150 for the purchase of supplies or equipment. Darnell, the second-place winner, receives a plaque and $100 cash and Grimes receives a plaque and $75 for her third-place essay.


The winners will be recognized during an Arbor Day program the morning on Friday, April 24, on South Dakota Public Radio. All students who entered the contest will receive a McDonald’s dessert certificate and a packet of tree seeds, courtesy of the SDDA Division of Resource Conservation and Forestry.


For more information on this contest and to read the winning essays, please visit the SDDA’s website.


Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $32.5 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 132,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture's mission is to promote, protect, and preserve South Dakota agriculture for today and tomorrow. Visit us online at sdda.sd.gov or find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.