Art and Essay Contest

student receiving award in contest
Student receiving congratulations upon winning in the Art and Essay contest


In 2015 President Barack Obama announced the Every Kid in a Park initiative that gives each fourth grade student and their family a free annual pass to all National Parks and other federal lands throughout the United States.President Obama and the National Park Service hope to encourage children to spend more time outdoors exploring nature and enjoying the abundance of natural resources protected by various federal agencies.

The mission of the National Park Service is to preserve, unimpaired, the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this, and future generations.The National Park Service, and other federal agencies dedicated to the preservation and wise use of public land want to help foster within young people a desire to protect and enjoy our nation's natural resources, landscapes, wildlife, and historical sites. If today's school children are expected to become the next generation of land stewards, children must first experience and form lasting, positive memories of the National Park System and other natural landscapes.

With that in mind, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is hosting an Arts and Essay Contest for all fourth graders in the state of Kansas. Fourth graders from across Kansas are asked to submit an original essay or original drawing that answers the question, "Why is it important to protect the prairie, our history, and all of the National Parks?"

To create essays and artwork, students are encouraged to visit this website to learn about and research the tallgrass prairie, history of the Spring Hill Ranch, and other national parks, but they should not limit themselves to preserve's website and are encouraged to conduct independent research for their essays with their teacher's or parent's guidance. More information can be found on this site under the Learn About the Park section.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve staff and a panel of educators will judge the essay submissions on the basis of relevancy, grammar, and spelling and will judge artwork on relevancy.All essay submissions should be no longer than 250 words, typed, double-spaced and mailed to the preserve by their teacher or parent with a completed registration form. Artwork submitted for the contest should be completed on a piece of material no larger than 8.5" x 11" and mailed by their teacher or parent to the preserve. Contest submissions not accompanied by a completed registration form will not be considered. All essays and artwork will become property of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, so the student should make a copy of their essay or artwork.

Registration Form - download

The panel of judges will select three first place winners from the essay submissions and three first place winners from the artwork submissions and will announce the results of the contest on March 31, 2016 via phone call to the respective schools.

Each first place winner will receive a Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Exploration Backpack filled with field guides, a water bottle, binoculars, first aid kit, pad and pencil, magnifying glass, animal track book, birding guide, cap, and junior naturalist guide.In addition to the individual winners' prizes, they and their classmates are invited to Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve for a bus ride through the preserve with a National Park Ranger and an activity designed just for the winners and their classmates. Finally, the winners' essays and artwork will be displayed in the preserve's Visitor Center so everyone visiting the preserve will have the opportunity to see them.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve encourages all participating teachers to print off free National Park passes for each student in their class.Educators can visit to create and print free national park passes for their students.Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve also invites all participating classrooms, regardless of whether or not the class has a winning essay or piece of artwork, to schedule a free two-hour tour of the historic ranch headquarters and visitor center.

Teachers can contact Eric Patterson at (620) 273-6034 ext. 242 with any questions about the Arts and Essay contest, Every Kid in a Park, or to schedule a field trip to the preserve.

All entries must be submitted by March 11, 2016 to:

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
c/o Arts and Essay Contest
2480B KS HWY 177
Strong City, KS 66869

Last updated: January 21, 2016

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Mailing Address:

2480B KS Hwy 177
Strong City, KS 66869


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