Lewis and Clark National Historical Park is pleased to announce the results of the fourth annual Youth Nature Writing Contest. This year's theme was "Tales from the Trail: A Hiker's Story." Through the contest, high school writers from Washington and Oregon shared their favorite hiking trail experiences and places they love to explore here in the Pacific Northwest.

This year's volunteer literary judge was award-winning journalist Cassandra Profita who writes and produces for Ecotrope, an Oregon Public Broadcasting blog about regional environmental stories. Ms. Profita said she enjoyed the essays immensely and was very impressed with the young authors.

Every year one group of essays rises to the top due to the guidance of an adult who teaches students the art of crafting a compelling story. This year the spotlight goes to Neah-Kah-Nie High School teacher Marisa Real who took her students on hikes, taught them about sensory detail, and encouraged them to revise their work into poetic prose. Six out of the top ten, including the winner, were from Neah-Kah-Nie High School. One can make a difference.

The winning essay, “The Forest,” was crafted by Gabrielle Hendrickson. Ms. Profita wrote, “This lean and muscular account of a blind and barefoot walk in the woods was captivating. It has nicely varied sentence structure, an intriguing narrative arc, and mysterious allusions to the writer's character. I want more!”

To read “The Forest” or hear it being read by Hendrickson, go to www.nps.gov/lewi. Bios, pictures, and the full 500 word essays of the top five winners are posted.

The top three winners received cash awards from $50 to $100, while fourth and fifth received water bottles. The 2012 Lewis and Clark National Historical Park-Youth Nature Writing Contest was sponsored by the National Park Service and the Lewis & Clark National Park Associat

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