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UW, Partners Name ‘Youth Vision for 2030’ Contest Winners

March 1, 2022

The University of Wyoming and collaborative partners recognized 10 young Wyoming writers for articulating a vision of the state’s future.

The writing and multimedia narrative contest, titled “Imagining Wyoming’s Future: A Youth Vision for 2030,” asked the state’s youth to imagine life in Wyoming in the year 2030. Participants described what the ideal future would look like, including such details as what jobs and recreation opportunities they imagine; how landscapes and communities might function; and the condition of the built environment.

The contest was open for two months in fall 2021 to those under the age of 20 who live in Wyoming. More than 50 young people from across the state submitted entries. Four independent judges with deep ties to Wyoming reviewed the submissions and selected the winners.

The goal of the contest was to create a platform for young people to share their visions for where Wyoming should be headed, says Emilene Ostlind, communications coordinator in the UW Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and one of the contest’s organizers.

“We hope that statewide leaders and decision-makers will read these pieces as they think about how to shape the state’s future,” Ostlind says.

Winners of the writing and multimedia contest, listed by hometowns, are:

Grand Prize

Powell -- Ethan Cearlock, age 17.

Second Place

Worland -- Kelli Frimml, age 18.

Third Place

Cody -- Hayley Pearson-Horner, age 16.

Honorable Mentions

Basin -- Avery Lewis, age 16.

Cheyenne -- Jenna Hoobler, age 17.

Cody -- Shaelyn Whitlock, age 14.

Laramie -- Rachel Stephens, age 16.

McFadden -- Jentry Sims, age 15.

Powell -- Luke Condie, age 19.

Rock River -- Naomi Moore, age 16.

The winning entries, which include works of nonfiction, fiction and poetry, are now available to read online at www.wyoming2030.org/youth-voice.

The contest winners delved into a wide variety of topics ranging from ranching and energy production to wildlife conservation and environmental protection to education and support for marginalized populations. They dreamed of a Wyoming with trash-free lands, new energy sources, open country to hike and ride horses, robust schools and diverse economic opportunities.

The UW Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources, along with the UW Honors College, Wyoming2030, the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance, the Wyoming Humanities Council and the UW MFA Program in Creative Writing, held the contest to elevate youth voices in the discussion about Wyoming’s future.

“Narrative storytelling is critical to understanding and navigating present challenges and imagining livable futures,” says Matt Henry, an assistant instructional professor in the UW Honors College and leader of the contest. “That’s why we wanted to give young people across the state a chance to draw on their values, experiences and sense of place to tell their stories about the futures they want.”

Winners received cash prizes as well as publication in both a digital and a print anthology that will be distributed throughout the state.

“I found all of the submissions to be both hopeful and searingly honest,” says Michelle Sullivan, director of the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance and Wyoming2030 coordinator, who helped organize the contest. “The pieces in this collection reminded me that young people’s perspectives belong in our civic discourse today and into the future.”

To learn more about the contest, visit www.uwyo.edu/haub/youth-vision.html or email Henry at mhenry12@uwyo.edu.

The Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources supports stakeholder-driven solutions to complex environmental and natural resources challenges in Wyoming.

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