The theme for the 2016 Essay Contest:
In dual honor of the Centennials of both Acadia National Park and the National Park System, for the 2016 Essay Contest emerging writers are encouraged to explore the relationship between the rich history of America’s National Park System and personal understandings of recreation and stewardship of wild places, wilderness, and Wilderness.
Although the origins of the National Park System lie in the 1830s aspirations of painter and explorer George Catlin, it was not until 1876 that the first national park was established. However, it was not until 1916 that the National Park System (NPS) was created to oversee the management and stewardship of these wild and beautiful landscapes.
A century later, nearly 300 million people flock to National Parks every year. We enjoy these many parks and monuments with their roads and trails, infrastructure and education programs, research facilities and gift shops in ways unforeseen by the Parks’ original stewards. Similarly, the roles of NPS employees, from climbing rangers to tour guides, are now as varied as the Parks themselves.
The dual mission of the NPS is to conserve the resources and provide visitor enjoyment of uniquely wild and beautiful places around the country. However, with these high and growing levels of use, how can the NPS achieve these ideals? Is the spirit of wilderness alive and well in our National Parks? What do we gain or lose by protecting these areas over others? What relationships between stewardship and National Parks stand out as significant in preserving both our landscapes and our ideals of wilderness?
Emerging writers are encouraged to address these questions and their own in well-crafted essays, drawing on personal wilderness experiences—in or out of Parks—as concrete examples for their arguments.
Submit Your Essay:
The deadline for submissions is April 15th, 2016. We will announce the winners at the end of June. The winning essayist will be awarded $1500 and published in Appalachia Journal. The Honorable Mention essay will receive $500. Both essays will be published on our website as well.