Waterman Fund awards winners in 2014 essay contest

The Waterman Fund is delighted to announce the winners of its sixth annual Alpine Essay Contest. The Fund received over thirty entries this year and through much thoughtful reading and fruitful discussion, the Fund’s reading committee selected Jenny Wagner’s essay, “The Cage Canyon,” as this year’s winner. Nancy Rich’s essay “Walking with Our Faces to the Sun” was selected as the runner up.

The contest theme for 2014 asked writers to explore the value of Wilderness, fifty years after the Wilderness Act. Submissions ran a wide gamut of responses, all reiterating the sentiment that wilderness, Wilderness, and wildness have a firm place in our lives and hearts. In his 1960 “Wilderness Letter” writer and conservationist Wallace Stegner warned that something priceless would go out of us as a people if we did not take action to protect wild places. The essay submissions reassure all readers that this essential wildness has not only remained, but grown stronger and more diverse in its articulations.

Wagner, of Boulder, CO and (currently) Senegal, works in experiential education. Her essay is an exploration of wildness through her experience working at Mission: Wolf, a wolf sanctuary in southern Colorado. The Fund selected Wagner’s essay for her abilities to weave an engaging personal narrative into the larger story of wolves—a cultural touchstone for wildness—and wilderness preservation and protection. Her essay asks, rather than answers, questions about the place of humans in among wilder beings and wilderness. In recognition of Wagner’s voice and talents, the Fund is pleased to award her a $1,500 prize to further her writing and explorations. Rich, of Chesterfield, MA, uses her PhD in Environmental Studies for environmental advocacy in the Berkshires. Her essays focuses on the many questions and few answers about wilderness, wildness, and place she has encountered in her winter fieldwork in the Berkshires. The Fund was drawn to her essay for Rich’s evocative imagery and her rather more personal reflections on ideas of wilderness—the hills of western Massachusetts are not a Wilderness, yet Rich finds a beautiful amount of wilderness to share with readers. Rich will be awarded $500 for her essay.

Wagner’s essay will be published in the Winter/Spring 2015 issue of Appalachia, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s biannual journal of mountaineering and conservation. Both pieces will appear excerpted in the November issue of The Alpine Steward, the Fund’s newsletter, as well as online in December.

Guy and Laura Waterman spent a lifetime reflecting and writing on the Northeast’s mountains. The Waterman Fund seeks to further their legacy through selecting essays and stories that celebrate the wild spirit of these places. The Waterman Fund Alpine Essay Contest, in partnership with Appalachia, seeks pieces by new and emerging writers exploring the relationship between the human spirit and the environment of and beyond these northeastern mountains.

The theme for the 2015 Alpine Essay Contest will be posted shortly; please contact Bethany Taylor at essays@watermanfund.org with any further questions or comments.

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