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William O. Douglas Award

Essay Contest

The Yakima Valley Museum is delighted to announce the winners of the William O. Douglas essay competition. They are 








Whitman College, Central Washington University Douglas Honors College, Heritage University, Pacific Northwest University, Yakima Valley College, Yakima Public Schools, and Educational Service District 105.


The school competition was  open to all high school students in grades nine through 12 attending public, private, parochial, or home schools in Educational Service District 105. This includes seniors who graduated this year.

The college competition was  open to students of Whitman College, Heritage University, Pacific Northwest University, Yakima Valley College and the Douglas Honors College at Central Washington University.


William O. Douglas used his stature and talents to present the case for conservation. He passionately and eloquently engaged the public and pressed them to defend our national heritage against the disfigurement of natural beauty, pollution of our air and water, and the decimation of wildlife. Stewardship of the natural world was more than a pleasing diversion for Justice Douglas.  He considered wild places a necessary ingredient for a healthy democracy and the inheritance for future generations. As he stated in his autobiography:

"I hope that before it is too late they will develop a reverence for our rich soils, pure waters, rolling grass country, high mountains, and mysterious estuaries. I hope that they will put their arms around this part of the wondrous planet, love it, care for it, and treat it as they would a precious and delicate child." (Go East Young Man, 1974)



Entrants were invited to write an essay based on one of the following prompts -

1) What is your relationship to land and its inhabitants? What about public lands? Should public lands be preserved for human use or is there some land that should be kept wild and separate from humans? How should people benefit from public lands?

2) What are some social justice implications of man-made climate change? What are some possible actions or policies that can be taken at the tribal, local, state, regional, or national level to address climate change's impact on social justice? 

3) Describe the importance of outdoor education and environmental learning. Identify some valuable environmental learning experiences you have had personally and explain why they were valuable. How should schools and colleges expand and improve these kinds of learning experiences for students? 


$1,000  1st Place      Isabelle Ehlis           A.C. Davis High School

$750         2nd Place         Genevieve McCoy       La Salle High School

$500        3rd Place           Miah Saenz                   Grandview High School



$1,000    1st Place    Kali Natarajan         Whitman College


Read Isabelle's Essay.

Read Kali's Essay.

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