Writers Express Youth Environmental Writing Contest


Prompt: Write a short story or poem about the environmental issue you think will be most important in the future.



  • Students must be in grades 6-8 and attend school in Westchester County, New York.
  • Submissions should be no more than 2 pages in length.
  • Students may work with a partner or in a group as long as all students attend the same school.

Winners will receive a monetary honorarium as well as an electronic publication on our website. 

Submissions for this contest are now CLOSED. Check back soon for the 2025 call for submissions.


2024 Winner

A Battle for the Bees

Written by Phoebe Johnston, Dobbs Ferry Middle School


Many noble, brave bees can be observed throughout bee-kind history. In 1564 there was Chrysanthemum the Great, conqueror of flowers. Rhododendron in 1633, the pollen provocateur. There was Magnolia, the stamen slayer in 1786. And Dave, in some other time

But out of all of these great bees, the legend of one comes above all. How did she accomplish her grand feat, you ask? By throwing pollen in the eyes of her enemies. It resulted in some serious cases of pink eye along with a few lawsuits. 

There are so, so many animals in our world that are ruthlessly abused, killed, and forced from their forests and rivers. But that list goes on and on. So let’s start small. Let’s start with the bees.

Sunshine wafted through windows, illuminating rows and rows of shining hexagons along the inner walls of the hive where bees slept in their cubbies. Spring was upon the hive and the scent of pollen was in the air. Everything was peaceful…

Until it wasn’t.

A power hose sprayed poison on Dandelions, held by a sweaty man in a green shirt. The racket awoke the bees with a start, clambering over one another though the hive entrance. “Someone get the queen!” they buzzed.

“My busy bees!” the queen buzzed from her royal cubby. “Evacuate the children! Attack the sweaty green human! Defend our hive!!!” The bees cheered.

Sleep-groggy warrior bees lined up and marched bravely out to the field. “No bee left behind! No bee left behind!” they chanted. Worker bees went to work, helping evacuate the younglings. And the mariachi band bees played some sweet tunes. Hey, everyone has their thing.

Especially Daffodil. She wasn’t a warrior bee. Or a worker bee. She wasn’t even a mariachi band bee! What’s the point if you can’t charge into battle with your stinger and your shield? Or spread pollen and joy everywhere? Or even play some sweet tunes??? Well, I’ll tell you what her point was. 

To be a news reporter bee. 

“What was the first thing that happened during the encounter?” Daffodil hovered over a tree branch, pen and paper in hand. She was interviewing a burly ground hornet named Lilac who had been guarding the hive before the human came.

“Well at first, everything was normal,” Lilac began. “The bees were all in their cubbies sleeping, when suddenly I heard a hose! A sweaty green human was trying to poison flowers in the hive field; land owned by their queen!” she buzzed angrily. (Hornets are very respectful of territory. If you don’t knock before coming into their hive, you’ll get stung.)

“Why do you think a human might do that?” Daffodil fumbled with her pen excitedly.

Lilac shook her head and sighed. “I’ve heard buzz about a ‘landscaper’ coming to town. Or at least that’s what they call themselves. But they’re really just bee killers! Poisoning flowers that us bees like…”

“Wait, poisoning flowers? To kill bees?” The chainsaw was enough, but this was outrageous! Perfect for a good article!

“Not exactly. See, humans get real protective over their gardens. So when they see a tiny weed, they call up these other humans to get rid of ‘em. The only problem is that the weeds they don’t like are the flowers we pollinate and feed our young with. They end up poisoning us! You guys are lucky you could use your pollen as a weapon to scare ‘em off, but they’re not gone for good. Although for now, I’d just worry about your flowers.”

Daffodil sat at her desk looking over all of the information she had. She had spent hours researching this big, bad gardening company that employed the green human. The head owner’s name was Lucifer Maxwell and their company name was Green and Clean. (Which was false advertising. Daffodil could use that against them.) But most importantly, their main company building was located in Ardsley village, which Daffodil found was short of a mile or two from her hive. By herself, the journey would be impossible. But luckily, she had convinced her queen, Elizabeth (-not the British one-), to send the hive’s troops along. Along with the mariachi band bees, of course. (You never know when those guys might come in handy.) The plan was to invade the building, wreak havoc, and lastly, to force the company into retreat for the better of bee-kind eternally!

They had flown a whole two miles from the hive to the Green and Clean building. They came in through the air vents and open windows. They knocked over coffee dispensers and desks. They swarmed workers and dropped a mechanical pencil on some dude’s head. All in hopes that the army could cause a distraction for Daffodil to get to the top floor. To Mr. Maxwell himself.

Daffodil marched up to the very important looking glass doors of a very important looking conference room. She went right up to them, and bravely… knocked and patiently waited to be allowed in. (What? Maybe people were like hornets.) A woman with a tight bun opened the door for her.

“Mr. Maxwell!” Daffodil called out, buzzing over to the head of the table. Lucifer looked up from a notepad and smiled kindly. “We have you surrounded! Surrender your company!!!”

“Please, little Honey Bee, calm down. I wouldn’t want you to think your attack is worth more than a pebble or two. You don’t know what I mean? What, did you think that you would march on in here and declare war? That you could tip over coffee dispensers, or steal pencils and take down a company as large as us? We don’t need our fancy buildings and a few computers. We have our reputation and our money! We’re selling pesticides all over the world! We are more powerful than any human who’s tried to chop down your little tree, or throw rocks at your tiny hive. So head back to your little life where you won’t have to be anything more than an insignificant pollinator.” He went back to writing on his notepad.

Daffodil’s heart sank. Those last words stung more than a hornet’s sting. Was that all this was? Insignificant? Was that all she was??? Maybe it was time to go home. No use fighting a losing battle. She would never get this piece published. But wait- that’s where she was wrong.

She didn’t just need her story published. Even if it had been her dream her whole life. It wasn’t just about her either. This battle she was fighting was for the bees. It was for the sake of the lives of millions of insect pollinators. And maybe they were just pollinators. But Daffodil was going to show Mr. Maxwell just how insignificant they were…

As Daffodil neared the glass doors, she heard a faint tapping in the air vents above. It was code. Reinforcements were there! She buzzed quietly in return. She told them her grand plan, hoping her message didn’t catch the ear of Mr. Maxwell.

She stopped at the glass doorway and took the deepest breath her little insect lungs could take before shouting with volume that no one else would bee able to take.

“CHARGE!!!” Bees came through the vents. Pollen was thrown. Humans were sent running for the elevator. Bees took over computers, hacking into the company’s bank account. Lucifer shouted, his face red as pork. Millions of dollars were lost. As he stood in shock, Daffodil approached Lucifer.

“Wow. All you need is your ‘reputation and money’? Unless I’m mistaken, being robbed of millions of dollars by some insignificant pollinators loses you both of those things. So, Lucifer… Give up your company. Your buildings, products, workers, your mechanical pencils. Everything.” Stung by Dafodil’s words, a look of defeat spread across Lucifer Maxwell’s pudgy face. 

And Daffodil knew she had won her battle.

If wildlife all over the world are getting forced out of their homes and killed every day, how many bees will be left to brighten up a field or simply put some honey in someone’s coffee cup? It’s a small comparison to animals all around the entire planet. But it’s not an insignificant one. And it’s not just bees. We’ve taken the wildlife that is our life for granted for far too long. 

It’s time to stop taking things from it.