Aldo Leopold Writing Contest
For 6th – 12th grade students in New Mexico, the Aldo Leopold Writing Contest is an effective and inclusive way to engage the next generation of citizen leaders in an urgent conversation about how to address the changing realities brought about by climate disruption, biodiversity loss, growing freshwater demands, and other pressing global conservation issues.
It is effective not only because of how many people it touches (the student participants, their peers, their teachers, their parents and grandparents, and their larger communities), but also because it gives voice to the writers with the most moral authority to discuss these issues: the generation most vulnerable to the suffering that will be caused by inaction.
It is inclusive because the essays are judged anonymously based on the character of the content, without regard for the writer’s race, national origin, religion, or any other factor. The Aldo Leopold Writing Contest is an organic--because based on merit--way to diversify an essential conversation for all of society.
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2017-2018 ALDO LEOPOLD WRITING CONTEST
Aldo Leopold is most widely known as the author of A Sand County Almanac. Published in 1949, the book is a classic in Western literature. Leopold believed our idea of “community” should be enlarged to include non-human elements such as soils, waters, plants, animals, “or collectively: the land.” Leopold believed our economic wellbeing could not be separated from the wellbeing of our environment. His land ethic asserts: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
Tell the story of a local land ethic leader.
Your story should reflect an understanding of Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, but does not have to be limited by it. Leopold understood there is not just one land ethic: “I have purposely presented the land ethic as a product of evolution because nothing so important as an ethic is ever written... It evolves in the minds of a thinking community.” You may interpret “local” to mean your own immediate neighborhood or the entire southwest region of the United States. We encourage you to read “The Land Ethic” and other essays by Aldo Leopold as part of your preparation. These can be found in A Sand County Almanac, available at local libraries, bookstores, and on the internet.
All students enrolled in grades 6-12 in public, private and home schools in the state of New Mexico. Students must submit original work and have a sponsoring teacher sign the contest entry form. One entry per person.
FORMAT AND AWARDS
Grades 6-7: no longer than 300 words $500 First Place
Grades 8-9: no longer than 400 words $500 First Place
Grades 10-12: no longer than 500 words $500 First Place
Bonus Prize: $250 in books for the school of the overall best entry
A total of $1750 in cash and books will be awarded. The Awards Ceremony will be part of the First Annual Leopold Lecture on Sunday 23 April 2017 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque featuring nationally distinguished writer Barry Lopez. All winners, their families, and their teachers will receive a complimentary invitation to the event. Click here for more information.
Download the teacher toolkit [Coming Soon]
Have students submit essays electronically here.
In the event essays cannot be submitted electronically, contact us for submission instructions.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
After essays are judged, teachers of winning students, and the students themselves, will be notified.
Winning students attend the Annual Leopold Lecture.
- Teachers with the most submissions will also be honored at the Annual Leopold Lecture.