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The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) is very proud of our 2017-2018 collegiate winners who typify both scholarship and love of the outdoors. These outstanding young people, along with all the fine students who entered our contest, are our future communicators and stewards for our precious outdoors. We are proud of them all!
We are delighted to present this year’s winners with their essays linked to their essay title with their name. Read and ENJOY!
Best Overall Essay
Allison Young Smith
Lord Fairfax Community College
“Finding Perspective in the Gorge”
Allison is a student at Lord Fairfax Community College with the goal of entering the Shenandoah University’s combined Master’s of Public Health/Physician Assistant program. She is currently completing her final Physician Assistant prerequisite course, Anatomy and Physiology II under the professorship of long time VOWA member Ann Simpson.
In addition to being a committed student, Allison is “married, a fitness fanatic (reformed Cross Fitter), mother of two teenagers, Rhodes, 19, and Lillian, 16 and preferred person to Maggie, our Spanish Water dog.” She tells us that “when all of these demands and relationships collide at once, I can think of nowhere I’d rather be than, alone, at the gorge where no phones ring and only the most adventurous can find me.”
The judges were impressed with Allison’s essay being “clear, compelling, and concise!” Congratulations Allison! Keep writing about the outdoors in your future plans, you do it so very well.
Best Overall Essay Runner-Up
University of Virginia
Levi is a 4th year student at the University of Virginia. In his own lovely words Levi tells us “I was born and raised on a small farm in Craig County, a rural county replete with natural beauty. Tucked in Virginia’s Western Highlands of Virginia, I grew up listening to the sounds of the hills around me. The music of these wild places has shaped the person I am today. A passion for the natural world led me to UVA where I am in my final year studying Environmental Science and Anthropology. I plan on attending grad school to continue my studies in human-ecosystem interaction.”
Outstanding essay Levi! Levi was also a winner last year with his Best Overall Essay “Visitors.” We are most proud to have you as a return winner. Your growth, passion about the environment, and stirring words are all truly inspiring! Thank you!
VOWA-Cooperative Living Magazine
Best Virginia Specific Essay
Kari L. Bowers
Lord Fairfax Community College
“Off the Beaten Path”
A sophomore at Lord Fairfax Community College, Kali is pursuing a degree in Health Information Management as well as a certificate in Medical Billing and Coding.
Kali grew up on a farm in Fort Valley VA, a very small community in Shenandoah County nestled into the mountains between Woodstock and Luray. “There are no stoplights, we have a post office, fire department, small country store and a community center. The closest grocery store is about 25-30 minutes away. I still live in Fort Valley just a couple miles down the road from my family’s farm. The place I call home has largely shaped me into the person I am today. As a child, I spent most of my time exploring the farm, catching minnows in the creek, climbing the hay loft, and riding on the tractors with my grandfather. I also spent a great deal of time hunting with my uncle and then eventually started hunting by myself.” Her winning essay describes the family farm in intimate detail, creating an excellent sense of place.
Kali also tells us that she has a passion for helping others and enjoys being involved in the community. “I am a volunteer firefighter with the Edinburg Volunteer Fire Company and Fort Valley Volunteer Fire Department. I am an active member of my church where I am a youth leader and serve on the Mission and Witness Commission.”
Keep writing about our wonderful Virginia outdoors in your plans Kali. You are talented! In addition to a $100 cash prize, Kali’s work will be featured in a coming issue of Cooperative Living magazine. Congratulations Kali!
This special award for the Best Essay Relating specifically to the Virginia outdoors is provided by Cooperative Living magazine which is published by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC).