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Oklahoma Encourages Young Outdoor Writers to Share Their Stories

From Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

-- Every year, young people across Oklahoma share their outdoor heritage by competing in a youth outdoor writing contest for a chance at a trip of a lifetime.

According to Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Wildlife Department, the essay contest is an ideal way for youth to show their love for the outdoors and, in the process, possibly win a vacation in the great outdoors.

There are two age categories (11-14 and 15-17), and one girl and one boy winner are chosen from each one.
          
To participate, students must be 11-17 years of age and currently enrolled in any Oklahoma school or home school. Winners of the 2007 contest are not eligible.

Applicants must have successfully completed an Oklahoma Hunter Education course by the entry deadline, which is Nov. 19, 2008. Students also must use the theme of "Hunting: Sharing the Heritage" or "Archery: What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting" or the concept of the theme to develop an expository essay or short story.
           
Winners in the 15-17 age category (one boy and one girl) will receive a guided antelope hunt in New Mexico, and winners in the 11-14 age category are competing for scholarship for the Apprentice Hunter Program at the YO Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas.

Safari Club International's Apprentice Hunter Program is a unique, hands-on course designed for girls and boys aged 11-14. The program covers topics such as history of hunting, the ethical basis of modern sport hunting, wildlife management, field identification, tracking and interpreting sign, game cooking and the SCI Sportsmen Against Hunger Program. There are three sessions, each one week long, during the summer of 2009.
           
The four statewide winners and their legal guardians will be invited to Oklahoma City to attend an awards ceremony in March. In addition, the top 25 essay entrants will receive a one-year youth membership to Safari Club International. The winning student essays will be published in the OSCSCI newsletter "Safari Trails." Publication qualifies the winning entries for the National Youth Writing Contest sponsored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Several past national winners have come from Oklahoma.
            
One educator also will be awarded an all-expenses-paid scholarship for an eight-day conservation education school at Safari Club International's American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) at Granite Ranch near Jackson, Wyo., according to Berg.
          
 The AWLS program is conducted during the summer and presents an outdoor program for educators that concentrates on natural resource management. Participants learn about stream ecology, map and compass usage, fly tying, shooting sports, wildlife management, the Yellowstone ecosystem, camping, white-water rafting, educational resources, how to implement outdoor education ideas and language arts and creative writing in an outdoor setting.
          
The essay contest rules and teacher scholarship applications are available from the Department's website at wildlifedepartment.com/writingcomp.htm.
           
Essays and applications must be postmarked no later than Nov. 19, or delivered by Nov. 19 in person to the Department of Wildlife's Jenks Office at 201 Aquarium Drive, in Jenks. Address entries to: Essay Contest, Attn: Education Section Supervisor, ODWC Jenks Office, P.O. Box 1201, Jenks, OK 74037.

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