Jan 16


Writers: This challenge has cash prizes. Read on ...


1. Write a persuasive essay urging people to take action against the invasive insect, emerald ash borer (EAB). Present a fact-based argument. You might include why this matters, how communities and homeowners can respond to EAB, and why a response is needed.
2. In poetry or prose, tell the story of an ash tree that is threatened by EAB. You might stretch back to the ash tree's history and its important role for the Abenaki people, for wildlife, or for the community where it grows. You could tell a story of empowerment, a tree that rebels and fights back. Or perhaps you have a special relationship with that tree and it dies. What happens? What takes its place? Let your creativity guide you.

Click here to respond to the Challenge.
Read on for more details ...

Respond to one of the prompts above. Writing must be original, 750 words maximum
Deadline: Friday, March 15

Prizes: First: $100; Second $75; Third $50. Each winner to receive a Vermont State Park punch pass (10 park visits). 
Winners will receive their prizes from the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program (UCF) and be invited to read their winning submissions at the UCF's annual Arbor Day Conference at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier on Thursday, May 2.
Winning submissions will also be published by Young Writers Project in The Voice and with media partners, and in Northern Woodlands News, Northern Woodlands bi-weekly electronic on-line newsletter.

This Writing Challenge is presented in partnership with the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program (UCF), a collaborative effort of University of Vermont Extension and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. The UCF program is working to raise awareness about the emerald ash borer’s threat and to help manage its impact on Vermont's forests. Emerald ash borer (EAB) has been confirmed in 35 states and has killed millions of ash trees across the country. It has been identified in five Vermont counties (Orange, Washington, Caledonia, Bennington, Grand Isle) and is expected to spread across the state. More than 160 million trees in Vermont are ash (one in 12 trees). You are living through this devastating loss of ash trees - you can help capture the stories and voices of this loss for future generations, and you can help communities understand the threat, prepare for,  and slow the spread of emerald ash borer.

BACKGROUND AND RESOURCES (from Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program):
  • The economic impact of the emerald ash borer (EAB) has been greater than that of any other invasive forest pest in North America. $10.7 billion has been spent so far on treatment, removal, and replacement of trees in the US.Once an area is infected with EAB, there is high mortality of ash trees: 99.7% mortality of ash trees in North America
  • At least 16 North American ash species are at risk. In Vermont, this primarily means white, green, and black ash
  • Ash makes up 4-8% of the hardwood forests in New England. 1 in 12 trees in Vermont are ash. (This varies by locale – some towns and regions have much more, some have less)
  • Ash is commonly planted as a shade or ornamental tree on streets, parks and yards. Ash trees cool our streets, conserve energy, prevent soil erosion, contribute to management of water levels in wetlands, increase property value, create jobs, and make baseball bats.
  • Black ash is culturally very important to Abenaki and other Eastern Woodland peoples as material for basketmaketing. Native basketmakers are very concerned about the threat EAB poses to this traditional practice.
  • 286 Species of arthropods (insects and spiders) depend on North American ash trees for food and shelter. At least 44 species of arthropods feed exclusively on ash.
  • Emerald ash borer is spread primarily through the transport of infected firewood and other wood material by humans. 
VTinvasives: Info on EAB and how to identify an ash tree
VT Digger: Vermont Towns gearing up to fight emerald ash borer
Burlington Free Press: Ash Borers are in Vermont and it is going to cost you
Northern Woodlands: Emerald ash borer in Michigan

** If you see a tree that looks suspicious and you think it might be infected with EAB you can report it here!