WNPA announces student essay contest winners at the Tucson Festival of Books

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.

TUCSON, AZ — Western National Parks Association (WNPA), a nonprofit partner of the National Park Service (NPS) since 1938, announced the winners of a student essay competition in a special presentation on March 11 at the Tucson Festival of Books National Parks Experience Pavilion. With support from competition cosponsor Metropolitan Education Commission (MEC), southern Arizona students in grades 9 through 12 were invited to help give a voice to WNPA’s mission of support to National Parks. 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, are:

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

Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, a contributing editor at Outside magazine and freelance writer for National Geographic, The New York Times, Slate, and many other publications and a WNPA-featured author at the Tucson Festival of Books, presented the awards. The presentation included readings by the winning students who also received cash prizes. Topics students explored in their essays included:

  • How does the idea of being a good citizen intersect with the national park mission of preserving unimpaired the Nation’s special places for the enjoyment of future generations?
  • How can the parks reach broader segments of society in ways that make them more meaningful in the life of the nation?
  • Why do national parks—and everything they represent—matter in a society increasingly driven by the urban experience, technological innovation, and the accelerating speed of communication?
  • What kind of benefits can people gain from being in parks that they cannot get elsewhere?

“All of us were so impressed with the thoughtful and often deeply personal essays submitted by these talented students,” said James E. Cook, executive director of WNPA. “We thank all the candidates for their excellent work and for their deep affection and respect for our national parks.”

About Western National Parks Association
Western National Parks Association (WNPA) helps make the national park experience possible for everyone. As a nonprofit education partner of the National Park Service, WNPA supports parks across the West, developing products, services, and programs that enrich the visitor experience. 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
Composed of 34 members, the Metropolitan Education Commission facilitates partnership and collaboration among education, business, service, and government agencies to promote education, advocate issues affecting education in Pima County, and empower K–12 students, teachers, and families. Learn more at www.tucsonaz.gov.


Thank you for visiting the National Parks Experience pavilion at the Tucson Festival of Books! See you next year!

For more information visit www.tucsonfestivalofbooks.org