2013-14 College/HS Winners Showcase

2013-2014 Collegiate/High School Winners

Left to Right: Victor Harangozo, Michael Gates, Matthew Reilly, Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Joseph Ward, Khoa Tran, and Caroline Armstrong.

Left to Right: Victor Harangozo, Michael Gates, Matthew Reilly, Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Joseph Ward, Khoa Tran, and Caroline Armstrong.

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) is very proud of our 2013-2014 Collegiate and High School winners who typify both scholarship and love of the outdoors. These fine young people are the future communicators and stewards for our precious outdoors. We present them here with their winning essays linked to each title.  Enjoy!

VOWA-Dominion Collegiate WritingCompetition

Victor Harangozo weg imageWinner
Victor Harangozo 
Virginia Tech, “Mr. Crabs”

Victor, awarded a cash prize by Dominion, is a Virginia Tech freshman studying engineering. His winning essay, “Mr. Crabs,” eloquently recounts a day of hunting for a trophy deer near his home in Haymarket VA where he grew up hunting and fishing “since I could hold a bow and rod.”

“Spending so much of my time alone in the wilderness has made me who I am today” says Victor, and writing “is my way of giving back.” One of the many life goals for this talented young man is to continue his writing and “travel the world sharing my stories with those who don’t have the same opportunities.”

Michael GateS with Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Joseph Ward.Runner-Up, Honorable Mention
Michael Gates, Virginia Military Institute,  “Some Beach”

Michael’s winning essay “Some Beach” painted a stirring picture of his family-owned vacation home, his “strip of paradise,” along the Florida panhandle and the excitement of his  first solo excursion in his dad’s brand new 22 foot all-purpose boat.

Calling Charlotte, North Carolina, home, Michael is a 4th classman (freshman) cadet who is studying mechanical engineering and seeking a scholarship in the United States Army to become a combat engineer after graduation. This is a young man passionate about fishing, the outdoors and his family, all of which comes through vividly in his writing.

VOWA-Cooperative Living Magazine Collegiate Award(Given for the best collegiate essay relating to Virginia)

Cooperative Living Winner 2014Victor Harangozo 
Virginia Tech,
“Mr. Crabs” 

Victor’s winning essay, “Mr. Crabs,” which eloquently recounts a day of hunting for a trophy deer near his home in Haymarket VA was also honored with the Cooperative Living Magazine Award by Editor Bill Sherrod. Image left to right: Dan Genest of Dominion and VOWA Vice President, Dr.Ivan Harangozo, Victor, Cornelia Harangozo, Victor’s brother Ivan, and Cooperative Living Editor Bill Sherrod. Victor’s essay will be published in Cooperative Living Magazine.

VOWA-Hunt’s Best Outdoor Photo Award

Sara Fleetwood webCastle Rocks FleetwoodSara Fleetwood
Virginia Tech, “Castle Rocks”

This year VOWA is proud to announce a new collegiate award for photography. Sponsored by Hunt’s Photo and Video, the first winner of this VOWA/Hunt’s Best Outdoor Photo Award, Sara is a junior studying Materials Science and Engineering/Industrial Design at Virginia Tech.  Her a breath-taking image, “Castle Rocks” was taken on a summer road trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. Sarah says that the white rocks reminded her of a castle overlooking a village. Sara is an avid outdoor enthusiast who enjoys backpacking, rock climbing, caving and a passion for photography that began in middle school. Her goals include traveling, continuing her photography, and using her engineering skills at a biometric materials or outdoor gear company. More of her photography can be seen at www.sarafleetwood.com. (Nikon D-90, Focal Length 20 mm, F 9.0)

VOWA-Bass Pro High School Writing Competition

(More details on these winners coming soon!)

Caroline ArmstrongFirst Place
Caroline Armstrong
Deep Run  High School


Matthew Reilly WebSecond Place
Matthew Reilly
Fluvanna High School
“Every Dog Has His Day”


Khoa Tran webThird Place
Khoa Tran
Cosby High School
“The ‘Reel’ Thing”


Awards Luncheon & Ceremony

Prizes were presented to the winners at a celebratory Awards Luncheon graciously sponsored by Dominion during our 2014 Annual Meeting/Conference held February 22, 2014 at the lovely DoubleTree Hotel in Charlottesville VA. It was a special privilege for VOWA  and our 68 members, guests, and winners to have Virginia’s new Secretary of Natural Resources  Molly Joseph Ward in attendance to congratulate our talented High School and Collegiate writers.

Congratulations to all who entered, you are all winners to us!  Keep enjoying, writing, and caring about the outdoors.

Thank you to Dominion, Bass Pro, Cooperative Living Magazine, Hunt’s Photo & Video, and the Bureau of Land Management Eastern States who together enable VOWA to make our very special competitions possible and honor these outstanding young people.  We also thank the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for their efforts to publish our outstanding High School and Collegiate entries in The Outdoor Report.

All conference images courtesy of Robert Thomas, Robert Thomas Photography. Thank you Robert!