High School Contest

VOWA Sponsors 26th Annual
High School Writing Competition!

Chairperson Matt Schwartz Email: mattschwartz0545@verizon.net

Rules and Submission Form Downloads:
High School submission form
HS Contest Guidelines-Rules 2017-18

Deadline February 1, 2019

Writers Encouraged to Enter Statewide High School Writing Contest

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. (VOWA) is sponsoring a High School Writing Competition for 2018-19, our 26th Annual Competition. The goal of the competition is to reward high school students for excellence in communicating their personal experiences in the outdoors. The competition is open to all Virginia students in grades 9 through 12. Home-schooled students are welcomed to enter.

The theme of this year’s contest is: A Memorable Outdoor Experience. Any experience by the writer with hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking, birding, or other outdoor activity should be the predominant subject matter. Athletic events or competitions are not an eligible subject matter

Prizes will be $300.00, $150.00, and $75.00 for first, second and third places. Contest sponsor is Dubby’s Fishing & Hunting of Harrisonburg. Winners will be announced and awards presented at the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association annual membership meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel in Charlottesville on March 16, 2019. The winner’s parents, a mentor, or a teacher may be guests of VOWA for the presentation event. The winning entries will be read by the students at the awards program during the Annual Meeting. The three top essays will be published on the VOWA web site, and may be published in other publications or web sites.

Essays should be written in Microsoft Word format and attached to an e-mail. The submissions can be made between now and the February 1, 2019 deadline. For more information, and to see past winners and their winning essays go to www.vowa.org/contest.

General Competition Guidelines for 2018-19: 

  1. Open to all Virginia students in grades 9-12, including those students home schooled.
  2. Essay theme: “A Memorable Outdoor Experience.” Non-fiction stories only. Writers will create their own title for the article—something other than using the words of the theme listed above.
  3. Student’s name, grade/school, and home town must be printed in three lines at the top right hand corner on each page of the entry.
  4. Word Length: 750 to 1,250 words, not including title. Entry must be typed, doubled-spaced, indent five spaces for each new paragraph, Calibri font. No introduction to entry. First item viewable should be entry title.
  5. Electronic submissions are required; send as a Microsoft Word or plain text attachment to the competition coordinator listed below.
  6. Include the designated submission form—age, grade, and school or specify if home schooled. Also include a short biographical sketch, which will be included with the winning essays on the VOWA web site.
  7. By submitting the article to the competition, permission is granted by the parent/guardian(s) and student for VOWA to post or publish the article in publications or web sites as deemed appropriate by the VOWA Competition Judges. Compensation is limited to writer credit to the student author in order to reward and recognize writing excellence, and for VOWA use to promote the competition throughout the year.
  8. Include a complete mailing address and evening telephone number, and an e-mail address (if available), for correspondence purposes only.
  9. Submissions not meeting the competition guidelines and criteria will be disqualified.
  10. Submission can be made from now to February 1, 2019.

Complete the submission form and send via email along with essay as specified in Guidelines to:


E-mail subject line: HSContest (followed by your high school name)

If you have questions please email Mr. Schwartz at: mattschwartz0545@verizon.net

Good luck and enjoy the great out of doors! 

The submission form is in Microsoft Word and is designed to be completed electronically. It will open on the first entry point and you just start typing your information. Tab to reach the next entry point. Each entry point will automatically expand as you enter information.  Click on Enable Editing in the top middle of page to be able to enter data.