This summer the Woods Institute for the Environment generously sponsored our first ever summer blogging contests. There were three broad categories – Research Making a Difference, Everyday Nature, and Summer Reading – and in each category there were two $100 prizes. One prize was determined by readers’ choice (popular vote) and one by the judgment of an expert reader (Michael Murphy, the Communications Director of the Woods Institute for the Environment).
We received some great submissions and together these submissions testify to the amazing work and reflection that Stanford students do over the summer and throughout the year. They also testify to the range of student interests and investments in sustainability. It was exciting to see how these submissions generated new writers and new readers. Our blog saw a substantial uptick in visitors and many of those visitors were voting for their favorite submissions.
Michael Murphy, who has worked in environmental communications for over ten years, agreed to be our expert reader. For the past three years he has been working for the Woods Institute, helping them achieve their mission of “Creating Practical Solutions for People and the Planet.” He made the following selections:
In the “Nature Close to Home” category Murphy chose Alex Martinez’s From Yellowstone Falls to Stanford: Nature is Closer Than You’d Think, singling out the vivid writing and the compelling distinction between “big nature” and “little nature” or the nature that is part of the fabric of our everyday lives.
In the “Summer Reading” category Murphy chose Seth Judson’s My First Summer in the Sierra (Camp). Judson reflects on his first summer working at the Stanford Sierra Camp – where he led discussions with alumni – and relates his experiences to Muir’s classic My First Summer in the Sierra (1869). Judson helps us think about how we might need to update Muir’s definitions of wilderness and conservation for the 21st century.
In the “Research Making a Difference” category Murphy chose Caroline Hodge’s Investigating Attitudes toward Nature. Hodge tells the engaging story of her journey into a more complicated and practical understanding of what it means to be an environmentalist.
The winners by readers’ choice were:
In the “Nature Close to Home” category Alex Martinez’s From Yellowstone Falls to Stanford: Nature is Closer Than You’d Think was the winner, for a sweep.
In the “Summer Reading” category Ben Kallman’s Thermodynamics is So Hot Now was the winner.
And finally, in the Research Making a Difference category Helena Scutt’s The Dirt on Hand Hygiene received the most votes.
Thanks to Michael Murphy, the Woods Institute for the Environment, and all our writers and readers!
We urge you to read these remarkable stories by this varied group of undergraduate writers.