2021 OWAA Excellence In Craft (EIC) Contest Rules

Categories, deadlines, and everything you need to know to enter.

The Outdoor Writers Association of America annually honors the best-of-the-best in outdoor journalism through its Excellence In Craft Contest. 

  • The EIC Contest is open to all OWAA members and will award first-, second- and third-place winners in 10 Media Categories: Blog, Book, Column, Graphic/Illustration, Magazine/E-zine, Newspaper/News Website, Photography, Photo Essay, Radio/Podcast, and TV/Video/Webcast.
  • All entries must be related to the outdoors, published either in traditional media or on the internet, as a professional effort, meaning the member has received direct payment or otherwise derived income through advertising or other sponsorship related to the published entry.
  • The contest period for eligible entries is 1 Jan. 2020 through 30 Dec. 2020, except for the Book Contest which is for works published between 1 Dec. 2018 and 30 Nov 2020.
  • Entries in all contest categories can be submitted beginning 13 Nov. 2020. The entry deadline is 15 Jan. 2021, except for the Book Contest which is 1 Dec. 2020.
  • The entry process for the 2021 EIC Contest is managed through a partnership with Submittable, an OWAA Supporting Group that specializes in on-line contest submissions. All entries must be submitted online through Submittable, except for Book entries, which must be mailed in.
  • To avoid confusion and extra work for OWAA staff and volunteers, members must enter only their OWN work through their individual Submittable account.
  • To begin submitting online entries, go to https://owaa.submittable.com to create a FREE Submittable account, which allows you access to EIC entry forms. Each Media Category – Blog, Book, Column, Graphic/Illustration, Magazine/E-zine, Newspaper/News Website, Photography, Photo Essay, Radio/Podcast, and TV/Video/Webcast – has its own entry form.
  • The entry deadline is midnight EST, 15 Jan. 2021 for all Media Categories except the Book Contest, which is midnight EST 3 Dec. 2020.
  • Entries in Blog, Column, Graphic/Illustration, Magazine/E-zine, Newspaper/News Website, Photography, Photo Essay, Radio/Podcast, and TV/Video/Webcast submitted after midnight EST, 15 Jan. 2021 will be charged an additional $10 late fee with a final submission deadline of 31 Jan. 2021. Entries submitted or postmarked after midnight EST, 31 Jan. 2021 will be disqualified.
  • The entry fee for all contests is $15 per entry. The fee for Blog, Column, Graphic/Illustration, Magazine/E-zine, Newspaper/News Website, Photography, Photo Essay, Radio/Podcast, and TV/Video/Webcast go up to $25 after midnight EST, 15 Jan. 2021.
  • Mail-in entries must be sent to OWAA EIC Contest – C/O Chez Chesak, 3420 Lyleburn Pl, Cincinnati OH 45220.
  • Entry fee payment must be submitted through Submittable using credit card, or by mailing a check. PayPal payment will not be accepted.
  • All Submittable online payments are tied to the specific Media Category being entered, so you can only process Blog entry fees in the Blog form, Column entry fees in the Column form, and so on. In other words, while you can make one payment for multiple Blog entries in different topics, the system currently doesn’t allow bundling entries from multiple Media Categories into a single payment. We recognize this is an inconvenience and will try to update this process in the future.
  • You may, however, submit a single check for all entries in all categories and topics. Mail checks to OWAA EIC Contest – C/O Chez Chesak, 3420 Lyleburn Pl, Cincinnati OH 45220. Checks must be postmarked before the contest deadline.

Members are required to pay their 2021 dues before submitting entries.

Your first step is to create a FREE Submittable account, which allows you access to EIC entry forms and other opportunities with Submittable.

If you have any questions on how to create a Submittable account, go to https://www.submittable.help/en/articles/904856-how-do-i-submit.

Special Thanks

Thanks to Henry Repeating Arms for their sponsorship of the Hunting/Shooting Sports Category! The support of brands like Henry is critical to help keep this program running year after year and provides additional prizing for category winners. 

Through its Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards, the Outdoor Writers Association of America® rewards budding writers who communicate about the outdoors. Prizes are awarded to winners in grades 11-12 and in college.

Entries may be submitted beginning September 1 and must be submitted by January 31.

Norm Strung Youth Writing Contest Rules

1. By submitting to the Contest, the entrant agrees to abide by all Contest rules.

2. Entries must have been created during the calendar year (January 1 through December 31) preceding the submission deadline.

3. No entry fee is required, and copyrights to the work remain the property of the author. Winning works may be used by Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) to promote education and youth outdoor communication efforts. The author’s name will appear with any such use. By entering this competition, each entrant also grants OWAA the use of the entrants' names, headshots, and limited biographical information for advertising, publicity and promotional purposes. For individuals under 18 years old, the individual's parent or guardian must grant this permission. Winners will also be displayed on the OWAA website, in the Outdoors Unlimited magazine, other publications, and social media.

4. High School Category: During some or all of the calendar year prior to entering the Contest, the author must have been a student in grades 11-12 (including prep school) to enter the high school division. These are based on U.S. grade categories. Home schooled or international students who are unsure of their grade should choose an appropriate category based on where the student would be placed if attending public school in the United States. Students who are taking college classes concurrently as they are taking high school classes (dual enrolled) should enter the high school contest.

5. College Category: Participants must be currently enrolled in a two- or four-year college, community college, or university (full time or part time) to be eligible to enter the college category, and be under the age of 25 on the day they enter the contest. Students should not already possess a four-year degree or higher.

6. Students may enter one piece of writing between 500 and 1,000 words in length, typed, and double-spaced.

7. Any prose form is acceptable.

8. Each entry must be original work of the entrant, and have an outdoor theme. Examples of appropriate outdoor themes include: nature, ecology, hiking, camping, biking, surfing, boating, canoeing, fishing, hunting, etc. Organized athletics such as football and baseball are not eligible subject matters and will be grounds for disqualification.

9. Submissions will be made through https://owaa.submittable.com/submit/151845/owaa-norm-strung-youth-writing-awards

10. Submissions must be made as a PDF document. The following format should be used for filenames:

a. Contest division (H = high school, C = college)

b. Author’s first and last names

c. Title. (Example: Jane Smith, age 17 and in high school, submits an essay titled “My First Catch.” The filename should read H_Smith_Jane_My First Catch.pdf.)

11. Additional information will be required during the submission process, including: the author’s school, age, grade, mailing address, email address, telephone number, supervising teacher or professor, and name/date of the publication in which the work appeared or contest the work won, if applicable. Students will also be asked to upload a headshot of themselves.

12. All entries are final. No revisions are accepted.

13. Entries will be judged by professional outdoor writers. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own and are final and binding. Entries will be judged on effectiveness in communicating ideas, grammar, creativity, and originality relating to an outdoor theme as listed above.

14. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Inappropriate content as determined by the judges will result in disqualification.

15. Prize winners or entries from local and state outdoor writing contests are encouraged to submit their entries for the OWAA contests. Previously published work is encouraged if the entrant retained the copyright, but the entries must be amateur/unpaid efforts, with the exception of having won a prize in a different contest. The purpose of this contest is to encourage up-and-coming outdoor communicators, not to recognize professional efforts. Professional (paid) work may be entered in the separate Excellence in Craft contest, available to OWAA members.

16. OWAA will announce the winners by May 31. OWAA reserves the right to reprint the winning entries and photographs of authors in its publications, including Outdoors Unlimited®; on its website and on its social media accounts.

17. Winners of the contest will be given additional consideration when applying for the Bodie McDowell Scholarship and are highly encouraged to do so.

Prize structure:

· 1st - $200

· 2nd - $100

· 3rd - $50

Each winner will receive a yearlong OWAA Student Membership ($25 value), have their name included in a nationally distributed press release and have their story included in OWAA’s magazine Outdoors Unlimited.

Your first step is to create a FREE Submittable account, which allows you access to access the Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards application. Entries must be submitted on this form. Mail-in and email submissions are no longer accepted. (If you experience technical difficulties completing this form, please contact support@submittable.com or info@owaa.org.)

Through its Student Photo Contest, the Outdoor Writers Association of America rewards budding photographers who capture the outdoors. Prizes are awarded to winners in grades 11-12 and in college.

Entries may be submitted beginning September 1 and must be submitted by January 31.

OWAA Student Photo Contest Rules

1. By submitting to the Contest, the entrant agrees to abide by all Contest rules.

2. Entries must have been created during the calendar year (January 1 through December 31) preceding the submission deadline.

3. No entry fee is required, and copyrights to the work remain the property of the photographer. Winning works may be used by Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) to promote education and youth outdoor communication efforts. The photographer's name will appear with any such use. By entering this competition, each entrant also grants OWAA the use of the entrants' names, headshots, “story behind the photo,” and limited biographical information for advertising, publicity and promotional purposes. For individuals under 18 years old, the individual's parent or guardian must grant this permission. Winners will also be displayed on the OWAA website, in the Outdoors Unlimited magazine, other publications, and social media.

4. High School Category: During some or all of the calendar year prior to entering the Contest, the photographer must have been a student in grades 11-12 (including prep school) to enter the high school division. These are based on U.S. grade categories. Home schooled or international students who are unsure of their grade should choose an appropriate category based on where the student would be placed if attending public school in the United States. Students who are taking college classes concurrently as they are taking high school classes (dual enrolled) should enter the high school contest.

5. College Category: Participants must be currently enrolled in a two- or four-year college, community college, or university (full time or part time) to be eligible to enter the college category, and be under the age of 25 on the day they enter the contest. Participants should not already possess a four-year degree or higher.

6. Students may enter one photograph.

7. Each entry must be original work of the entrant, and have an outdoor theme. Examples of appropriate outdoor themes include: nature, ecology, hiking, camping, biking, surfing, boating, canoeing, fishing, hunting, etc. Organized athletics such as football and baseball are not eligible subject matter and will be grounds for disqualification.

8. All photographs should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization will be disqualified. Acceptable alterations include minor adjustments to color, contrast, brightness and sharpness, removal of sensor dirt, and cropping.

9. Except in cases of hunting or fishing, participants should use caution to protect the survival of the subject being photographed and make every effort to avoid action that might interfere with natural wildlife behavior. Except in cases of hunting or fishing, entries that appear to involve harassment of wildlife or damage to the environment shall be disqualified.

10. Submissions will be made through https://owaa.submittable.com/submit/181118/owaa-student-photo-contest.

11. Submissions must be made as JPG documents, with a minimum file size of 250 kilobytes and maximum of 5 megabytes. The following format should be used for filenames:

a. Contest division (H = high school, C = college)

b. Photographer's first and last names

c. Subject matter. (Example: Jane Smith, age 17 and in high school, submits a photograph of a rabbit. The filename should read H_Smith_Jane_Rabbit.jpg.)

12. Additional information will be required during the submission process, including: the photographer's school, age, grade, mailing address, email address, telephone number, supervising teacher or professor, and name/date of the publication in which the work appeared or contest the work won, if applicable.

13. Students must also upload a head shot of themselves, and provide a 75-100 word paragraph explaining the “story behind the photo.”

14. All entries are final. No revisions or replacements are accepted.

15. Entries will be judged by professional photographers. Photographs will be judged on technical excellence (including sharpness and lighting/exposure), composition, originality, overall impact, and artistic merit. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own and are final and binding.

16. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Inappropriate content is determined by the judges and will result in disqualification.

17. Prize winners or entries from local and state outdoor writing contests are encouraged to submit their entries for the OWAA contests. Previously published work is encouraged if the entrant retained the copyright, but the entries must be amateur/unpaid efforts, with the exception of having won a prize in a different contest. The purpose of this contest is to encourage up-and-coming outdoor communicators, not to recognize professional efforts. Professional (paid) work may be entered in the separate Excellence in Craft contest, available to OWAA members.

18. OWAA will announce the winners by May 31. OWAA reserves the right to reprint the winning entries and photographs of contestants in its publications, including Outdoors Unlimited®; on its website and on its social media accounts.

19. Winners of the Contest will be given additional consideration when applying for the Bodie McDowell Scholarship and are highly encouraged to do so.

Prize structure:

· 1st - $200

· 2nd - $100

· 3rd - $50

Each winner will receive a yearlong OWAA Student Membership ($25 value), have their name included in a nationally distributed press release and have their photo included in OWAA’s magazine Outdoors Unlimited.

Your first step is to create a FREE Submittable account, which allows you access to access the OWAA Student Photo Contest application. Entries must be submitted on this form. Mail-in and email submissions are no longer accepted. (If you experience technical difficulties completing this form, please contact support@submittable.com or info@owaa.org.)

Outdoor Writers Association of America