For questions about this project, please click here to contact the Project Chair.

Informative writing is to allow youth to explore their interest in horticulture by researching a topic and then expressing their research findings in an original essay.

Creative writing is often defined as the writing of fiction, where the author creates events, scenes and characters, sometimes even a world. In reality, aside from instinctive utterances like the yelp of an injured child or a delighted ‘Oh!’, all expressions are creative.

Writing a poem is all about observing the world within or around you. A poem can be about anything, from gardening to the rusty gate at the old farm. Writing poetry can help you become more eloquent and improve your linguistic style.

Who Can Participate

Individuals ages 5-22 may participate in one of four age categories:

A. 5-9 year olds
B. 10-14 year olds
C. 15-18 year olds
D. 19-22 year olds (along with previous Grand National Award Winners)

Individuals only; no teams.

Divisions of Writing

A. Informative
B. Creative
C. Poetry

Project Requirements for Informative

Participants research and write a 3-4 page paper with at least 3-5 references (cited sources).

Topic Ideas

The following are only ideas; you may write about any horticultural subject that interests you:

  • Put the “culture” back in “horticulture”: The use of plants in cultures around the world
  • Marketing of _________ (your choice of horticultural crop(s)
  • Recent advances in _________ (some area of horticulture)
  • Horticulture in history or the history of horticulture
  • The role of horticulture in human nutrition
  • Use of beneficial insects in horticultural production
  • Plant breeding—developing new cultivars
  • The importance of water quality in horticultural production
  • The development and use of drought-resistant (or insect-resistant) plants
  • Biotechnology and horticulture
  • Integrated Pest Management in horticulture
  • Traditional pest managements vs. organic pest management
  • Hydroponics
  • Horticultural therapy
  • Famous landscapes or landscapers/landscape architects in history
  • Genetically altered plants or plant products
  • The influence of climate change on horticulture
  • Issues in irrigation and water usage
  • Cool and unusual fruits or vegetables
  • Growing and marketing organic crops
  • Community gardens

Research Sources

Acceptable references include horticulture journals trade publications, text and reference books, encyclopedia, Cooperative Extension and USDA publications, plant society websites, etc. You may use the Internet to retrieve your source, but do not use Wikipedia or other sources that may be written or edited by people who are not experts in horticulture. Be sure to keep track of what information you get from which sources so that you can cite the sources in your paper.

Project Requirements for Creative

Participants should write a 2-5 page story on a topic of their choice about a horticultural idea or story of their choice they would like to create. They can write about any area of horticulture that interests them. Ideas include but are not limited to:

  • Horror Stories from the Garden
  • Tales from the Root Cellar
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Alice in Garden Land
  • Once Upon a Tulip
  • Dirty Rotten Tomatoes

Project Requirements for Poetry

Participants should write a poem on a topic of their choice that is horticultural related. It can rhyme, count syllables, or following any certain pattern. Ideas and famous poems to think about include:

  • Leave of Grass
  • Time after Time
  • The Wood Violet
  • Trees Overhead
  • Flowers Among Us

Format for Writing

  • Times New Roman, 12 point font.
  • Standard 1-inch margins, double spaced with indented paragraphs.
  • Body of the paper should be left-justified. Do not use full-justification. In other words, all lines (except long quotes) should start at the left margin, but not automatically extend to the right margin.)
  • A cover sheet should have the title of the paper, student’s name, age at the time of the entry, address, telephone number, and e-mail address, if available. List the name, address and phone number of the teacher(s) or leader(s) who may have provided assistance. Also include E-mail address(es) for local media including newspapers and radio stations.
  • Starting with the second page the participant’s name should appear in theupper right hand corner of each page.
  • References (Bibliography) should be cited on a separate sheet at the end of your paper. Sources should be cited in either APA (American Psychological Association) or MLA (Modern Language Society) style. (if applicable, not needed for creative or poetry)

Essay Evaluation

Content and originality55%
Form, grammar and punctuation25%
Reference citations20%

Score Sheet

Contest Registration (Form E)

Awards Sponsor

Wisconsin Master Gardeners
Byron Hacker
N4511 Hwy 57
Chilton, WI 53014
Home Phone: (920) 849=2654
Work Phone: (920) 489-4714


Entry Deadline

September 15

For additional information, consult the project chairperson:

Dr. Brian Stark
5000 Sinclair Court
Lincoln, NE 68516
(402) 202-8834
Email: Michael&Brian Stark-Bomberger

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