2020 Stewardship Scholar Essay Contest

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) is excited to announce our Fall 2020 Stewardship Scholarship Essay Contest. Please review the guidelines below:


Students are invited to write a 750-1250 word essay on the topics of Land Stewardship or Trust in the More-Than-Human world for a chance to win a cash scholarship toward your education. There will be one grand prize scholarship of $1000 and two semi-finalist scholarships of $500 awarded. Complete essays or excerpts may be printed in SUWA’s Redrock Newsletter.

SUWA’s mission is to protect the outstanding wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau in its natural state for all Americans. Recognizing that people of color have historically been left out of the U.S. public land conservation movement, we are committed to our goal of raising diverse voices across the West – those who take the lead protecting public lands in Utah.

Eligible students are those who 1) are self-identified as Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Color, 2) live in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, or a Tribal Nation in the region, and 3) are enrolled at least half-time as an undergraduate at a college, university, technical school, or vocational institution in the Spring 2021 academic year.

The scholarship application period opens Tuesday, September 22, 2020 and closes on Sunday, November 29, 2020 at midnight MST.


Essay Topics

Essays should draw from your personal experience to connect the dots between fundamental social issues and the need for broadscale land protection. Write as if to an external audience whom you feel may not understand your experience at the outset. In this way, write as a teacher from your own place of learning. Please choose one of the following topics to respond to in your essay submission.


Topic 1: Trust in the More-Than-Human World

Public lands are held in trust for all Americans. No matter where you are from, or how long you’ve been an American, they are for you, and for the generations to come. While all of the natural world held in public trust has a  legal definition, we want to know how you’ve come to gain a sense of trust – in your self, in your community, or in your surrounding natural environment – through your relationship with the more-than-human world. 

Briefly define what trust means, or looks like, to you. Tell the reader where a feeling of trust in yourself or in relationship with others comes naturally. Then, answer the question: What does trust look like beyond your human relationships? Tell a story about a specific relationship with a natural element (place, plant, animal, fungi, or other element of nature) that you learned to trust. What impact has this trust between you and the more-than-human world had on your life? How does this inform your activism?


Topic 2: Land Stewardship Today

Stewardship takes on numerous forms according to our values and traditions. Each of these personal aspects are shaped by your culture.

Write from your personal experience. This may incorporate wilderness encounters, or include your personal experience of wild things within a context not conventionally defined by the “wilderness” term. Describe how your connection to the natural systems (landscapes; creatures; broader ecosystems) at the heart of the wilderness concept, have propelled your activism.


Submission Process

All submissions should be sent as a Word Doc to scholar@suwa.org. Please include “Scholarship Submission” as the title of your email. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis through November 29th.

At the top of the Word document containing your essay, please include the following:

  • Your Full Name
  • Your School/Student ID#
  • Your Contact Phone #
  • Statement of Need [3-5 sentences outlining your personal need and interest in the scholarship. This will NOT be shared publicly.]

Questions? Write to us at: scholar@suwa.org

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