The 2010 Lewis and Clark National Historical Park--Youth Nature Writing Contest attracted 38 teen authors from Washington and Oregon. The theme, "Water for Life" resonated on many levels from the political to the spiritual. Each high school student was required to compose a 500-word creative nonfiction essay about water. Stories submitted included a variety of fascinating topics such as: a world perspective about the lack of water in Africa, releasing the ashes of a loved one into the ocean, the beauty of the Columbia River gorge, how the watershed has changed since the time of Lewis and Clark, and a new Oregonian experiencing her first major rain storm.

Contest judge Gail Balden, who has judged other student writing competitions said, "The pool of entrants was by far the best I have ever read." She noted the essays showed great passion for the subject and it was clear many took the time to write and rewrite their stories. Balden is an author of numerous essays published in anthologies and literary journals. Her essays appear regularly in the North Coast Citizen in her monthly column about life in rural Oregon. For almost 20 years Gail has enthusiastically taught creative writing and currently offers workshops through the Center for Contemplative Arts in Manzanita, Oregon.

Here are the top ten entrants as judged by Balden.

1. Nathanael Franks Sam Barlow High School

2. Phoebe Horvath Newport High School

3. Carolyn Ewing Sam Barlow High School

4. Brianna Vincent Nea-Kah-Nie High School

5. EmyRae Kruse Home School

6. Amira Shagaga Newport High School

7. Hayley Trivett Newport High School

8. William Leroux Seaside High School

9. Jessica Gillingan Seaside High School

10. Emily Meshke Warrenton High School

A specially selected essay by Jasmine Thomasian from Astoria High School was awarded a special merit by the staff of Lewis and Clark NHP.

The winner, Nathanael Franks will receive $100 dollars and a scholarship to attend En Plein Air Workshop to be held at Nehalem's Alder Creek Farm Conservation site on June 12 with award-winning nature writer Robert Michael Pyle.

Students will read their essays at a special celebration honoring their work on Friday, June 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center. This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Some students will also be guests on Carol Newman's radio show--Arts Live and Local on KMUN on Friday, June 25 at 3:00 p.m.

To view and hear some of the winning authors' work, bios and pictures, go to www.nps.gov/lewi and click onto the "2010 Youth Nature Writing Contest" link.

The 2010 Lewis and Clark National Historical Park-Youth Nature Writing Contest was sponsored by the National Park Service and the Lewis & Clark National Park Association. The writing scholarship for the winning author was provided by the Hoffman Center Manzanita Writer's Series and the Lower Nehalem Community Trust.

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