News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Writing contest open to local students

There’s still time for young writers to submit essays exploring desert landscapes to the High Desert Museum’s Waterston Student Essay Competition. The deadline is Thursday, June 17.

The Waterston Student Essay Competition, now in its second year, is part of the Waterston Desert Writing Prize. It’s open to students in grades 9- 12, in public or private school, or home-schooled, who live in Crook, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson and Lake counties. Submission is free. Students may submit essays of 750 to 1,000 words of nonfiction prose to [email protected] The submissions will be judged on originality, clarity of expression and their contribution to the understanding and appreciation of desert regions.

“Opening a Waterston Prize to students fosters young writers and helps them grow a new appreciation for this region,” said Prize founder Ellen Waterston. “We received some thought-provoking submissions last year, and we can’t wait to see what this year’s young voices will share.”

Author and poet Ellen Waterston started the Waterston Desert Writing Prize in 2014. Through six years of growth, the High Desert Museum has been a strong partner to the organization, promoting the Prize and hosting the annual awards ceremony and reception. In September 2020, the Waterston Desert Writing Prize announced another huge step — its official adoption by the High Desert Museum.

“The Waterston Desert Writing Prize speaks to the core of the Museum mission — to celebrate and expand the knowledge of the High Desert landscape,” said Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw. “The adoption is an incredible honor for us and we will continue its mission, vision and legacy in perpetuity.”

For more information about the Waterston Desert Writing Prize, visit Submit entries at


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