What do you get when you mix tree planting, colored pencils, and an appreciation for Maryland? The Arbor Day poster contest was presented by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. A fifth-grade student at Berry Elementary School, Arynn Brooks, won second place in the 2022 Arbor Day poster contest among hundreds of other student entries across Maryland.

Fifth-grade student at Berry Elementary School, Arynn Brooks wins second place in the poster contest winning 10 trees to be planted for her school to celebrate National Arbor Day this year. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

Every year hundreds of students enter to win trees to plant at their schools. First place wins 15 trees; second place, 10 trees; and third place, five.

Poster entries are judged by a panel on a countywide level, then are submitted to the Maryland Urban and Community Forestry Committee (MUCFC) to compete at the statewide level. Along with the committee, statewide entries were judged by First Lady Yumi Hogan, artist and adjunct professor at Maryland Institute College of Art.

When Brooks found out that she was placed in the contest she was immediately surprised and proud of her accomplishment. “I thought I was capable of placing but I did not actually know it was going to happen, so I would consider myself pretty proud of myself,” she said. She wasn’t the only one who was proud of her accomplishment. Her fifth-grade science teacher at Berry, Michelle Fryer said, “I was so impressed with Arynn’s artwork and her overall concept. I thought she really captured what the contest was all about.”

second-place winner is Arynn Brooks From Waldorf, Charles County

Brooks is also excited about getting trees planted for her school. “I thought that would be something really big for my school,” she said. Her science class has focused on the importance of trees. “The classroom discussion has consisted of the environmental impact of deforestation on habitats, climate, and other environmental impacts,” Fryer said.

Each year the Arbor Day poster contest has a theme for participants to base their submissions from. This year’s contest theme was “Trees are Terrific, and Maryland Forests are Too.” When Brooks described her poster, she said she got her inspiration from Bob Ross. She used some of his brushstroke techniques from his paintings. She said she tried to make the tree the focal point and “incorporated a lot of shadowing to make it stand out,” Brooks said.

She has a huge passion for art. “I really see the beauty in it because I feel like it gives you a way to express yourself, your ideas, emotions, or inspirations. I think through art you can see the world in a different way because of the beauty of it,” Brooks said.

Judges of the 2022 Fifth Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest stand with the top three prize winners. Photo by Joe Andrucyk, Maryland State House.

When she is not sketching, she enjoys reading a good book. “I love to read because it is like a little movie inside the pages.” She loves chapter books because it forces her to use her imagination when reading the story.

National Arbor Day is on the last Friday in April and this year it falls on April 29. The day celebrates nature and encourages people to plant trees, and Berry Elementary is ready for the day thanks to Brooks.

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