2018-19 Florida 4-H Nature Poetry Contest

What inspires you to write about nature?
Photo credit: Niels Proctor, University of Florida


Poems are reflections of things we care about. Poetry is an opportunity to share what you observe, wonder about, or laugh over! Poems can be creative and clever. They can link together ideas in new ways. We can learn from poems, too.

Up to 20 poems (from poets of any age) may be submitted by the 4-H agent in each county. Each poem must be submitted on the submission form by March 1, 2019. Winners will be announced on April 13, 2019 at the Forest Ecology Contest in Gainesville FL.


How to participate in the contest

To enter the poetry contest, download the contest entry form (PDF) and fill it out either by hand or in Acrobat Reader. The printed form will need to be returned by mail to the address given in the instructions. There is a limit of one entry per person. Because this is the pilot year for the program, there is no fee involved. Entries will be accepted in three age categories. All entries must be postmarked by March 1, 2019.


What makes a good poem?

Good poems have one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. The subject of the poem is clear, easy to understand, and focused.
  2. The choice of words create power, convey an image, share a passion, breathe life, or share an experience with the reader. They come alive!
  3. Some poems have a standard rhythm or pattern. Some poems count syllables, as in a haiku. Some poems, like limericks, have a meter or beat.
  4. Some poems rhyme, and some “almost” rhyme. Words that have the same ending sound, like cat/bat/that are real rhymes. Words that almost rhyme (called assonance) might sound like a rhyme but aren’t, like branches/fences or leaves/breathes.
  5. The beginning of words can also become a pattern, such as words that start with the same letter or sound:  fancy footwork of falling foliage.
  6. Good poems often use metaphors, similes, and analogies to convey ideas. A metaphor defines something as a comparison: You are a breath of fresh air. A simile uses the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ to compare two things: Her eyes sparkled like diamonds when she found her favorite tree. An analogy defines a complex idea in simple, easy to translate, concrete terms: A sandhill crane – from wingtip to wingtip, is wider than I am tall.

Some Sample Poems

Frog (a haiku)
  One jump, he is in
  Eyes poke above the water
  Waiting to hop out



  Night-light for the world.

By Amy E. Sklansky
Source: Out of This World: Poems and Facts About Space (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012)



The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
   Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
   Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
   Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
   Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
   Up in the air and down!

By Robert Louis Stevenson
Source: A Child's Garden of Verses (1999)



The Dentist and the Crocodile
The crocodile, with cunning smile, sat in the dentist’s chair.
He said, “Right here and everywhere my teeth require repair.”
The dentist’s face was turning white. He quivered, quaked and shook.
He muttered, “I suppose I’m going to have to take a look.”
“I want you”, Crocodile declared, “to do the back ones first.
The molars at the very back are easily the worst.”

(this poem continues for many more lines – how would you like to see it end?)

By Roald Dahl
Source: Rhyme Stew (Penguin Random House LLC, 1989)



Learn More


For more information about poetry, check out the Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/

Congratulations to the 2018 Poetry Contest Winners!



First Place – Senior – Kelly Anne Swain, Orange County

Nature, if you'd please


  the spanish moss

  tells the age

  of the old oak tree


  the fluttering song birds

  fly along with

  the flitting bees


  the red woodpecker

  makes noise

  up in the leaves


  along the fence

  once spotted

  the gray squirrel flees


  figures down the sidewalk

  all around, there’s

  Nature, if you’d please



Second Place – Senior – Dominic Fabrizio, Pinellas County


Faster than any animal on earth

Agile and sleek with a razor sharp beak

Light as a feather

Confident and brave; difficult to tame

One with knowledge, with skills of a hunter

Noble as a knight of the air



First Place - Intermediate – Miriam Wood, Pinellas County

Work Was Slow

There once was a slow snail named Bruce

He worked for a place that sells juice

He was due long ago

And though he was slow

Boss didn't believe his excuse


So he started working part-time

Scrubbing the floors of their grime

While cleaning the ground

He went round and round

Mopping his trail of slime


Because he likes cookies and cake

He got a job where he could bake

He fell in the dough

And became escargot

And his friends were all late to his wake



Second Place – Intermediate – Jocelyn Wood, Pinellas County

My Pet

I have an Armadillo. His name Is Hal.

He Is my pet. He is my pal.

I play with him. I teach him tricks.

I kick a ball. I throw some sticks.

I walk him every day and night.

He never ever tries to fight




Bathing him's hard. I have to get in the gaps.

He doesn't play much. He mostly just naps.

When I play ball, out in the sun,

he becomes the ball. That’s not fun.

He keeps on digging In the floor,

'round the house and out the door!

When I pet him, he hides in a log.

Ok! That’s enough! I want a dog!



Third Place – Intermediate – Breighton S. Reed, Pinellas County





Fire Burns

Animals Flee

Trees Fall



Rain Soaks

Flames Smolder

New Trees Sprout









Honorable Mention – Intermediate – Edward Pierson, Pinellas County

I hatched from an egg

I hatched from an egg

on a warm spring day

I have a long neck and a leathery back

that's soft and won’t crack

Don't put your finger near my nose

I will snap at you if you get too close

I like to bask on a dock

and sit on a rock

I am a softshell turtle

my friends call me Myrtle



First Place – Junior – Mia Portillo, Volusia County

Nature’s Melody

Can you hear the hissing

and rattling of the slithering snake?

  Hiss! Hiss!

What about the stream

sweeping and slamming the rocks?

   Whoosh! Whoosh!

The wolves are howling.

   Ahh-wooo! Ahh-wooo!

As the full moon's light is shining.

The breeze dances with the trees.

With the birds chirping

   Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!

And the owls hooting.

   Hoot! Hoot! Hoot!

It is like nature’s melody.



Third Place – Junior – Karen Alexandra Hoefler, Orange County



Delightful, agile

Galloping, jumping, racing

Loves to be with me

My horse



Honorable Mention – Junior – Emmerson Reed, Pinellas County

The Tree

Seeds Sprout

Stalks Grow

Leaves Unfurl



Grows Sunward

Flowers Bloom

Animals Visit

Pollination Occurs

Fruit Emerge

New Seeds Disperse

New Life Begins



Honorable Mention – Junior – Ava McCoy, Pinellas County

The Tricky Fish

Once there was a fish, a tricky fish.

He always tricked people to go the wrong way.

Then, Bear came along asking for directions to the honey for a scrumptious dish.

Fish said. "Why of course dear Bear, don't be afraid, for I would never lead you astray.”

So fish got in a tank which Bear put on his black back.

Fish led the way to the heart of the forest where they passed Bears friend, Mac the Quack

Then fish abruptly shouted "STOP!”

Bear dropped the tank to the forest floor.

“Under our feet, there is enchanted honey.”

 “So dig, Bear, dig!" fish cried.

“Think of the possibilities of endless money!"

Bear dug until he struck. ... water, not honey!

Fish laughed and jumped in the water.

He told Bear, “Silly Bear, I am a tricky fish!" and swam away.