‘How I Became a Westerner’ — 2012 Annual High Country News Student Essay Contest


I was born and raised in Denver, which might qualify you as a “Westerner” automatically. I became a Westerner while wearing out my hiking boots in the back country with friends and family. The drives to the trailhead helped as well. I can’t name them all but I have favorite restaurants in many mountain and desert towns.

I remember one time back in the Seventies in Escalante. A local policeman asked me what the “bunch” of us were doing.

I said, “We’ve been in the canyons for a week. We’re going over to the Golden Corral for burgers and fries and then up to the state park for a shower. After that we’ll be heading up to Boulder, down into Hanksville and over to Colorado from there.”

“Good,” he said.

From email from the High Country News:

Send essays to studentwriters@hcn.org.
Visit hcn.org/edu for more information.

In 600 words, describe why your heart is at home in the American West. Is being a Westerner a physical state, a frame of mind, an emotional experience? Is it something you earned? Something you were born into? A title conferred on you, or one you adopted on your own?

The contest is open to all currently enrolled high school students and undergraduates at American schools, colleges and universities as well as 2012 graduates. Submissions must be original, unpublished work (the writing can have been published in a student publication). One entry per person, please.

Include your name, contact information, school name, and area of study with your submission.

The winning essay will appear in the upcoming HCN Books and Essays special issue and the writer will receive these backpacking essentials from MountainSmith:

– Lookout Backpack
– Poncha 35 Degree Sleeping Bag
– Rhyolite Trekking Poles

More education coverage here.

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