Western National Parks Association (WNPA) and the Metropolitan Education Commission invite you to help give a voice to WNPA’s mission by composing a compelling essay on the effects of climate change in our national parks.

As WNPA works to ensure national parks remain relevant to new generations and more diverse populations, we invite high school students across southern Arizona to compose a 500- to 750-word essay answering the question: How is climate change affecting our national parks?


Consider these questions:

• In what ways is climate change affecting our national parks?

• What is the National Park Service already doing to combat this change?

• How can you and others assist in these efforts in your everyday lives? For example, how can you and others intentionally adapt your lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint?

• How can science help parks manage climate change?

• Why do our national parks matter and why should we protect them?


Contest Rules:

• Participants must be in grades 9–12 (or homeschool equivalent) and reside or attend school in southern Arizona.

• Limit one entry per student. Please do not submit duplicate essays.

• Essay must be submitted via email or postmarked by January 15, 2019.

• Participants must be available to read their essays and accept awards in Tucson, Arizona, at 4 PM on Sunday, March 3, 2019.

• Entries must be the original work of the student and free of plagiarism. Quotations or copyrighted material used in the essay must be appropriately identified.

For a complete list of rules and formatting requirements, click to download the essay contest rules and entry form.


Essays will be read and evaluated by a review committee. The top three essays will receive cash prizes of $250 for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third place. Recognition of excellence will be announced at a special ceremony at 4 PM on Sunday, March 3, 2019, at The National Park Experience Pavilion at the Tucson Festival of Books. Selected submissions will be featured on the WNPA website, in the WNPA quarterly newsletter, and on WNPA social media. Prize-winning students may also be featured in a video produced by WNPA.

Click to download the essay contest rules and entry form.


Last year’s winning essays:

With the theme, “Why do people need parks? Why do parks need people?” the winning essays addressed the relationship between people and parks in America today. The three winning students, all from the Tucson area, were:

1st place – Isolde Edminster-Genet, Green Fields School   Read Isolde’s essay

2nd place – Alyssa Urff, Sahuaro High School   Read Alyssa’s essay

3rd place – Maancy Saksena, Canyon Del Oro High School   Read Maancy’s essay


If you have questions about the contest, please call Caroline Lochner at 520-789-7325.

About Western National Parks Association
WNPA helps make the national park experience possible for everyone. As a nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, WNPA supports parks across the West, developing products, services, and programs that enrich the visitor experience, understanding, and appreciation of national parks. Since 1938 WNPA has worked to connect new generations to parks in meaningful ways, all with one simple goal: create advocates who want to preserve and protect these special places for everyone, for all time. Learn more at www.wnpa.org.

About Metropolitan Education Commission
The Metropolitan Education Commission (MEC) is cosponsoring this year’s essay contest. The MEC brings city and county government entities together with leaders from public and private schools, businesses, government, social services, and the Hispanic-Native-African-Asian-American communities, and youth to address all areas affecting the educational welfare of Tucson and Pima County Citizens. Learn more at www.tucsonaz.gov.



From L to R: WNPA Executive Director, James E. Cook; 3rd place winner, Maancy Saksensa; 1st place winner, Isolde Edminster-Genet; 2nd place winner, Alyssa Urff; and Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.