Live Deliberately Essay Contest

The Walden Woods Project & Thoreau Institute is offering Live Deliberately Essay Contest to youth students aged 14 – 21 around the world. The Project achieves its mission through the integration of conservation, education, research, and advocacy. The 2016-2017 contest will have three age groups: 14-16, 17-18, and 19-21.  One winner will be identified in each age group and will receive a $250 cash prize, plus an autographed special edition of Walden.

Founded in 1990 by recording artist Don Henley, the Project uses the land it has protected in Walden Woods to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility, both cornerstones of Thoreau’s philosophy.


  • The contest is open to youth around the world. Youth must be at least 14 years and no older than 21 years of age at the time of submission. Past winners are not eligible to participate.
  • Each contestant who is 17 years of age or younger must have a teacher, club advisor, parent, or other adult sponsors. The sponsor will serve as the contact between the Walden Woods Project and the student. He or she should also review the contestant’s work prior to submission to ensure that it meets essay guidelines.

How to Apply:

  • Candidates can apply only online for the scholarship. The link is given below
  • You should write an essay on the given topic: Consider the different meanings of trees, cultivation, and soil as Thoreau uses them in the passages above. What guidance does Thoreau offer us in these quotations about living a deliberate life full of humanity and meaning? How do you “cultivate the tree which you have found to bear fruit in your soil” and why is that important? Use specific examples to support your ideas.

Essay Guidelines:

  • Length: Essays should be no longer than 750 words. This is a maximum word count; if your ideas can be clearly and powerfully communicated in fewer than 750 words, that is great.
  • Language: Essays should be written in English and represent the youth’s original work.  Youth are welcome to write their essay in their own language but it must be translated into English prior to submission.
  • Original Work: A teacher/sponsor can provide pre-writing activities and appropriate review, editing, and translation support, but the ideas, content, structure and style of the actual essay must come from the youth alone.
  • Titling Documents for Submission: To help in organize and manage the significant number of files that are submitted, they ask you to use the following guidelines when titling your document prior to submission: Please name the file “LastnameFirstinitial_Essay2017”. For example, our Director of Education, Whitney Retallic’s submission would be titled “RetallicW_Essay2017”.

Financial Aid and Award Money:

One winner will be identified in each age group and will receive a $250 cash prize, plus an autographed special edition of Walden. 

Application Deadline:

The application deadline is March 15, 2017.

Link for More Information:

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