EUGENE, Ore. – Seneca Sawmill and its sister companies are offering a $5,000 scholarship to the winner of a high school essay contest regarding the benefits of the wood products industry.

In order to be considered for the scholarship, Oregon high school juniors and seniors must interview three people in the wood products industry and address this question in essay form: “What are the benefits of forest management for the forest and for the community?”

“We see it as an educational program, an incentive for students to learn about the viability of our natural resources here,” said Ashley Jones, special projects coordinator for the Seneca Family of Companies and granddaughter of Seneca’s founder. “Obviously, we find that very important as our industry, and we’re just hoping to get students and the next generation excited about it.”

This is the first year that the Seneca companies have offered the scholarship, Jones told local news outlet The Register-Guard. The scholarship could become an annual program, she said.

The student winner of the scholarship can spend it at any of Oregon’s 26 public colleges in the state, including the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and community colleges.

The essays must be five to 10 pages long and be submitted by March 29. Seneca will announce the winner by June 1.

“Education is so valuable,” Seneca co-owner Becky Jones said in a statement. “It should be available to anyone who wants it and is willing to put in the work.”

Founded in 1954, Seneca Sawmill operates four mills in Oregon, with lumber production levels exceeding 650 million board feet.