© 2019 Yakima Valley Museum & Historical Society Inc.

2105 Tieton Drive | Yakima | WA 98902

Phone: (509) 248-0747

Fax: (509) 453-4890

Email: info@yvmuseum.org

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William O. Douglas Award

Essay Contest

The Yakima Valley Museum has create a new award named for one of the Northwest’s most famous and accomplished individuals,  Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

The first awardee to be honored is


former US Secretary of the Interior from 2013 to 2017

The award banquet is to be held in Yakima

on Saturday, October 3, 2020. 


Along with the award, the Museum elected to sponsor two essay competitions, one for area college students and one for high school students about an aspect of Douglas’s legacy.


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


Schools Competition: open to all high school students in grades nine through 12 attending public, private, parochial, or home schools in Educational Service District 105.

College Competition: open to students of Whitman College, Heritage University, Yakima Valley College and the Douglas Honors College at Central Washington University.


All students must list the name of a nominating teacher or professor on the registration form. The role of a nominating teacher is to provide students with guidance during the writing of their essay. The essay contest winners, their parents and their nominating teacher will be invited to receive awards at the award banquet on October 3, 2020 in Yakima. Nominating teachers can be former or current teachers.

In very few cases, there may be an exception if an interested student is unable to obtain a teacher from their school or college to be their nominating teacher. In this case the student should contact the Museum to receive further assistance.

Decisions of the Yakima Valley Museum are final. Winners will be notified by email and via telephone by September 15, 2020. All participants will receive a letter notifying them of the winners along with a Certificate of Participation by the end of September. By entering, contestants agree that the essay will become the property of the Yakima Valley Museum. The Museum reserves the right to print and display the essays and photographs of the contest winners.


The essay must address an environmental issue derived from the writing prompts provided below:

College and university students should respond to the following prompt: Describe the value of public lands to the future of America.  What are public lands? How are public lands preserved? What are some threats to public lands? How do people in this country benefit from public lands?

High school applicants should respond to the following prompt:  Prepare an essay that describes the importance of outdoor education (or environmental learning) for the next generation of adults. Identify some valuable environmental learning experiences you have had personally and how and why they were impactful.  Why are these experiences important to a well-rounded education today? How should schools and colleges expand and improve these kinds of learning experiences for students? 


Essays must be between 800 and 1,000 words, not including citations and bibliography. Applicants must use at least five varied sources such as government documents, letters, newspaper articles, books, and/or personal interviews.  Submissions with fewer than five listed sources will be disqualified. All participants must cite sources they used to research their topic throughout their essay. Please use parenthetical citations within the text. Essays must include a bibliography. Accepted formats include APA, MLA, or Turabian.  All submissions must adhere to contest requirements. Essays must be the original work of the student. 


All entries must include a completed registration form and be submitted or postmarked by 11:59 p.m. on July 1, 2020 to be eligible for judging.  Students have the choice of either submitting their essay online (preferred) or mailing their essay. The Yakima Valley Museum is not responsible for lost, late, illegible, or incomplete submissions.



School Competition

$1,000    1st Place

$750       2nd Place

$500        3rd Place


College Competition

$1,000    1st Place

$750       2nd Place

$500        3rd Place

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