Vachini High School Writing/Photography Scholastic Awards Contest Attracts Record Entries

By Peter Schroeder

Inspiring students to consider careers in outdoors journalism. That’s the goal of the Vachini High School Writing/Photography Scholastic Awards Contest, now in its fourth year, which is sponsored by Outdoor Writers Association of California. The contest, which is free to enter, is open to juniors and seniors attending any high school in California: public, private Catholic,  charter, and others.

Demonstrating the strong appeal that the outdoors holds for the next generation, the contest this year drew a record number of more than 50 entries from 11 high schools throughout the state.

In the photography category, students submitted a portfolio of three photos on any combination of fauna, flora, and people in an outdoor setting. Submissions are to be in digital format, color or b/w. Digital adjustments and processing are allowed.

In the seven writing categories, students were required to write a minimum of 500 words, except for poetry, on any outdoor subject in any style: essay, news article, personal experience, documentary, blog, research study, poetry, etc. The two prose categories this year were “News/Features” and “Essays”. Poetry entries divided into four groups, “People in Nature”, “Endangered Nature”, “Nature as Metaphor”, and simply “Nature”.

Each entry is judged by three or four professional journalists and photographers from OWAC who each write critical evaluations of every submission. All students who enter receive copies of the judges’ comments. In addition, the First- second- and third-place winners in each category will each receive cash awards and certificates suitable for framing plus the prestige of recognition by California’s leading organization of outdoor media professionals.

OWAC is proud to sponsor this scholastic award competition, the only contest of its kind in the State of California that offers cash awards. More than $2,000 will be paid out at the end of May when the winners are to be announced.

High School Scholastic Award Winners

The Pat Vachini Outdoor Writing/Photography Scholarship Fund was established in memory of the wife of Don Vachini, long-time OWAC member and one of California’s foremost outdoor writers and photographers.

Founded in 1986, OWAC is the only organization of outdoor media professionals in the state of California. Members include newspaper and magazine staffers, freelance writers, book authors, bloggers, internet content contributors, photographers, broadcasters, editors, and media professionals covering outdoor life.

Share this story
Picture of Peter Schroeder

Peter Schroeder


Follow us on
Follow us on

2023 Excellence in Craft Awards

EIC 2023

2023 Student Awards

Students 2023

Not yet a member?

Read about membership benefits.
Learn how we work together to educate and encourage people to enjoy the outdoors.

Subscribe to OWAC Outdoors

OWAC's bi-monthly newsletter

Members Only

Submit a Post.

OWAC Facebook Feed

Scroll to Top

Subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter for the latest outdoor news. 

Write to us