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Imagine your life in Wyoming in the year 2030. If all your dreams for this state come true, what will that day look like?
What kind of job would you have? What would you do for recreation or entertainment? What would your community or town be like and what kinds of people would live there? How would you view your place in the community and the state? What would the landscapes surrounding your community look like? What connections to the land would people maintain? What would be the condition of the built environment such as roads, communications, and energy infrastructure, and of the natural environment such as air, water, and wildlife? What would it take to build this future?
The Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming and our partnering organizations want to hear from Wyoming youth. We seek narrative submissions in a range of media formats including written, digital, artwork, audio, video, or others, that tell the story of your hopes for Wyoming's future.
Be creative. Paint a picture of your ideal vision for your life in the state of Wyoming nine years from now. Tell the story of what you wish for the future of Wyoming. Think about how you and your community fit within that future and what it will take to get there. Draw on your own experiences, values, and imagination to respond to current challenges facing the state and articulate your vision for a prosperous, resilient future Wyoming.
We received over 60 submissions to the contest in fall of 2021. Our volunteer judges worked through four rounds of judging to select the ten winners, announced in winter 2022.
“Wyoming adapts, from oil and coal to thorium and uranium, our economy and our pride are illuminating the United States. Solar and wind are no strangers to our lands either. This state may no longer be so carbon based, but we remain the bona fide battery of America.”
“The future of our state is in the hands of the youth. This is why caring for and supporting us now is so important.”
“There has been a zero emissions initiative set in place, which should be in effect by 2050. While that is 20 years into the future, I realize for the first time today that we are on the right track, and that we may actually be emission free in my lifetime.”
“One of the reasons our teachers are paid so well and we have such a strong education in Wyoming is because of oil and gas and the money it is producing, but because this number is declining we need to find more diverse ways to help support the economy.”
“Wyoming is known for its beautiful landscapes and wildlife, and by protecting these things, we are protecting our state.”
“Our full potential is, as of yet, untapped, and were we to achieve it, we could be a force for progress and economic might in this country.“
“Now students have all the resources they need—teachers that are dedicated to helping them, free wifi to do their work. Students are never stressed about the little things and are able to always have a hot, healthy meal. They can just enjoy school for what it is, the right to a free education that they deserve.”
“Fall and winter is my favorite time of the year because it’s when Wyoming feels more like home. In the fall it feels like it’s just me, my horses, and the Wyoming fresh air.”
Bailey Brennan serves as the Wyoming County Commissioners Association's Natural Resource Counsel, supporting the state’s county commissioners on federal natural resources issues. She received her Juris Doctor and Master’s in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Wyoming. Bailey lives in Lander with her husband, Pat, and their daughter, Frances. In her free time, she helps Pat run Second Street Farm, a small farm raising produce and pastured beef and poultry.
Don Jones was born and raised in Laramie. He attended Middlebury College in Vermont and now works as a research scientist for the University of Wyoming studying birds, small mammals, and amphibians. He is deeply interested in conserving Wyoming’s wildlife and wild places, and in confronting the challenges of climate change. In his free time he can usually be found birding, hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, or doing pretty much anything else in the outdoors.
Janissa Marie Analissia Martinez is a writer from Glendo, Wyoming, who loves to write quiet, visceral, character driven fiction about the rural spaces where she grew up. She writes from perspectives that try to change our understanding of Wyoming and what it means to live in rural spaces. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Fine Arts in creative writing at the University of Wyoming, working part time at a library, and fighting for time to spend with her husband and daughter.
Sam Lightner, Jr. is a renowned rock climber and author who grew up in Jackson and is a University of Wyoming alum. He has notched several first ascents around the world and has authored several guidebooks as well as a highly-regarded history of Wyoming entitled Wyoming: A History of the West. He currently resides in Lander.
Entries will be judged based on the degree to which your submission provides a clear, compelling, and detailed vision for Wyoming’s future. Judges are looking for creative, thoughtful ideas about where the state should be headed and the kind of culture, values, opportunities, and environment young people want.
The judges will not assess entries based on grammar or production quality, but especially poor writing or low-quality production could interfere with the judges’ understanding of your story. Entries in all formats will be given equal consideration, and the type of media you choose to tell your story is less important than the ideas contained within your submission. Judges will not see contestant names.
With funding from the Spicer Fund for Collaborative Practice
Check this page for updates about the contest going forward.
Send any questions about this contest to Dr. Matt Henry, professor in the Honors College at UW, or to Emilene Ostlind, communications coordinator for the Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources.