INDIANAPOLIS — In celebration of National Ag Day, students in grades 4-6 are encouraged to participate in an essay contest, sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers. The essay, themed “Agriculture: Food for Life,” challenges students to think critically about the important role agriculture plays in their lives and the lives of those around them.

Winners will receive $200 for first place and $100 for second place, and will be invited to attend a special recognition ceremony at the Indiana Statehouse on March 18.

“Indiana’s family farmers are committed to providing an abundant supply of food and fiber, while also caring for our natural resources,” Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture director, said. “We look forward to hearing from the next generation on how agriculture impacts their daily lives and world.”

Under this year’s theme, students can write about a variety of aspects of agriculture. They could focus on the important role agriculture plays in the community, how food is produced or how farmers have adapted to feed a growing world population, to name a few.

“This essay contest is a wonderful opportunity for students to express why agriculture is important to them,” Jeanette Merritt, director of Checkoff Programs for Indiana Pork, said. “We encourage students all across the state to participate and look forward to honoring the winners at our National Ag Day celebration at the Statehouse.”

Contestants must be Indiana residents, and only one essay can be submitted per person. Essays must be 12-point font, double-spaced, and cannot exceed 200 words. No handwritten essays will be accepted. Entries must be emailed to indianasfamilyoffarmers@gmail.com by Feb. 28.

Essays will be evaluated based on the following criteria: material organization, vocabulary and style, neatness, and grammar, punctuation and spelling.

For additional guidelines and rules, follow Indiana’s Family of Farmers on Facebook.