September 06, 2023

Manchin Announces 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Essay Contest for West Virginia Fourth Graders

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced an essay contest for West Virginia fourth graders as part of the celebration of the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The Capitol Christmas Tree – known as “The People’s Tree” – lights up the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol during the holiday season and is selected from a different national forest each year. This year, the tree will come from West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest.

“The Capitol Christmas Tree is a wonderful, historic tradition that brings our great country together during the holidays, and I am thrilled that the 2023 tree will be from West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest,” said Senator Manchin. “This essay contest will allow one outstanding fourth grader to take part in the official tree-lighting ceremony in Washington, which will showcase not only our remarkable forestry, but also our strong community spirit. I’m grateful to the Forest Service for their hard work and partnership on this celebration, and I can’t wait to read about what our Wild and Wonderful home means to young West Virginians across the Mountain State.”

Students are invited to describe in 500 words why they love West Virginia’s forests and public lands, incorporating the theme of the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree: “Endlessly Wild & Wonderful.” Senator Manchin will select one student from statewide submissions to receive a once-in-a-lifetime all-expenses paid trip for the winner and one guardian to travel to Washington, DC in late November or early December to take part in the official tree-lighting ceremony alongside members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and the public. The student will be invited to attend several other festivities during their visit and may have an opportunity to read their winning essay publicly.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service selects a national forest to provide the Christmas tree for the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, a tradition that began in 1970 when Monongahela National Forest provided the first tree on behalf of the Forest Service. Monongahela National Forest also provided the tree in 1976. This year, the tree will be harvested in Randolph County from the Greenbrier Ranger District and will travel around West Virginia throughout November before heading to Washington.

More information on the essay contest:

  • Contest open to all fourth-grade students who are residents of West Virginia.
  • Essays should be no more than 500 words, submitted to
  • Include the name of the student; parent’s email address; name of the student’s teacher and principal; and name, address and phone number of the student’s school.
  • Submit essays by September 26. The winner will be announced in early October.

For more information about the tree, travel route, schedule and special events, please click here.

A video of Senator Manchin’s announcement is available here.