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2010 Dykeman Prize for Essay Writing

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The 2009 Winners are here.
There are no 2010 winners.  The contest is open for 2011.
Tennessee Clean Water Network sponsors an annual essay contest with prizes for essays about Tennessee water. The prizes are awarded in honor of the late Wilma Dykeman, the 2007 recipient of the Bill Russell River Hero Award. Ms. Dykeman’s legacy includes being the writer of 16 books, including The French Broad and The Tall Woman; being named Tennessee Conservation Writer of the Year; holding the honorary title of Tennessee State Historian; and leaving a love of nature and environmental stewardship and education for future generations.
One of Ms. Dykeman’s most notable achievements was her role in designating the French Broad River as an American Heritage River in the 1990s. Ms. Dykeman devoted much energy and passion to convincing leaders in North Carolina and Tennessee of the river’s worthiness for that designation and the benefits it would bring.

After graduating from high school and Biltmore Junior College in Asheville, Ms. Dykeman attended Northwestern University and received a bachelor’s degree in speech.
Ms. Dykeman published more than 16 books in her lifetime.
The French Broad (1955), recounts the history, legend, biography, sociology and economics of a mountain region that draws its life and ways from this river and its tributaries. The work, her first, won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Trophy in 1955. The French Broad was groundbreaking when it was published in 1955, and has never been out of print. It inspired stewardship of the French Broad River, whose water quality has since vastly improved.
Ms. Dykeman has been named Tennessee Conservation Writer of the Year and Tennessee Outstanding Speaker of the Year by State Association of Speech Arts Teachers and Professors, and she has held the honorary title of Tennessee State Historian since 1981.
“The sole blame for the river’s [French Broad] fouling could be laid to no one person or group. Because the river belongs to everyone, it is the possession of no one,” Ms. Dykeman wrote before listing the fish kills and studies documenting pollution dating back to 1939.
Ms. Dykeman passed away at the age of 86 on December 22, 2006, leaving a legacy of environmental stewardship and education for future generations along the French Broad River.

  1. All submissions must be received by August 2, 2010.
  2. Contests are open to anyone with a Tennessee relationship (resident, visitor, etc.). Members of the TCWN staff and board of directors, their immediate families, and contest committee members may not submit entries. Previous first-prize winners may not enter the contest for one year.
  3. Two prizes may be awarded: One $500 award for writers age 18 or over and one $200 award for writers under age 18. Also, the University of Tennessee Press will give winners a copy of the Encyclopedia of Appalachia
  4. Winners will be announced in early September, and they will be honored at the TCWN Bill Russell River Hero Award ceremony in the fall. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope to receive a list of winners or check out the TCWN website at http://www.tcwn.org/events/essaycontest.php.
  5. Format: Include a cover sheet with entry, including your name, address, phone number and e-mail address on cover sheets only. We need at least 2 ways of contacting you.  Please paginate and insert a footer with the name of the essay on each page.  If you choose electronic submission (best!) use Word 2007 or .pdf format. Also indicate age group you are competing in (ex. 17 or younger or 18 or above). A cover sheet must accompany each entry. Do not put name or other identifying information on the entry itself. Entries will be coded, by number, for judging by members of the TCWN Board of Directors, representatives of the Dykeman family and published authors. No previously published works.
  6. Manuscripts will not be returned.
  7. Nonfiction. Subject of the essay must be Tennessee waters or general water matters (like federal legislation) impacting Tennessee. Entrants will be judged on spelling, grammar, content, specificity and creativity. Personal experiences with waters of Tennessee, natural history of Tennessee’s rivers, streams and biota and the interrelationships between man, animal and water are encouraged. Writers should look to the works of Ms. Dykeman as an inspiration. Where facts are quoted, they should be referenced. The judges frown on items copied from the TCWN website or any references made to TCWN in the essay.
  8. Entries should be 2,500 words or less.
  9. Send entries to: Wilma Dykeman Essay Contest Tennessee Clean Water Network P.O. Box 1521 Knoxville, TN 37902 or by email: [email protected]
  10. By submitting to the contest, in consideration for any and all compensation or prizes, winning writer grants TCWN first publication rights. Writer retains all other rights. Winners may be published in TCWN’s Current issue and/or on-line at tcwn.org.


Tennessee Clean Water Network

625 Market St.
Knoxville, TN 37901
Mailing Address:
PO BOX 1521
Knoxville, TN 37901
Office: 865.522.7007
Fax: 865.525.4988

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