Announcing Winners of the 2021 Aldo Leopold Writing Contest

Apr 7, 2021

The Leopold Writing Program is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Aldo Leopold Writing Contest. Students from around New Mexico in Grades 6-12 entered this year’s contest. The First Place essayists in three grade categories each receive a $500 cash prize, and the Overall Best Essay Winner receives an additional $250 award.

Dylan Como-Mosconi, an eighth-grade student at Mandela International Magnet School, Santa Fe, won the First Place Award in Grade Category 8-9, and was also the winner of the David E. Stuart Humanitarian Prize for Overall Best Essay. Honorable Mention award winners are Charles Chapman, Grade 8 at Mandela International Magnet School, Santa Fe; and Karen Zhang, Grade 9 at Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque.

In Grade Category 6-7, Pippa Barrett, a sixth-grader at Journey Montessori Middle School, Santa Fe, was the winning essayist. Honorable Mentions were awarded to Mia Schleman, a seventh-grader at Mandela International Magnet School, Santa Fe; and Inez Castillo, in Grade 6 at Amy Biehl Community School, Santa Fe.

Brianna Xie, a Grade 12 student at Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, was First Place in Grade Category 10-12. Honorable Mention award winners are Ryan Jaden Jim and Maggi Van Drunen, both in Grade 10 at Rehoboth Christian School in Rehoboth, New Mexico.

The Annual Leopold Writing Contest asks students to submit original essays in response to a writing prompt. This year's topic was:  “As the novel coronavirus spread in 2020, we needed to stay home. We had to turn back to familiar landscapes, reacquaint ourselves with our yards and neighborhoods, and look more closely at our own skies and landscapes. Using Aldo Leopold’s land ethic as a guidepost, think about lessons we can learn from staying home. What acts of creation – be that as poet or as planter – did you unexpectedly find yourself taking up, and how did your creations build on some of New Mexico’s senses of dwelling with the Earth, such as querencia, kinship, acequias, and aridity?”

With in-person schooling curtailed in the state, the number of entries for the Writing Contest was lower than in previous years, but the many essays received were evaluated anonymously by seven dedicated judges.

The Leopold Writing Program is an all-volunteer New Mexico nonprofit dedicated to inspiring an ethic of caring for our planet by cultivating diverse voices through the spoken and written word. The Aldo Leopold Writing Contest is an effective and inclusive way to engage the next generation of citizen leaders in an urgent conversation about how to address the changing realities brought about by climate disruption, biodiversity loss, growing freshwater demands, and other pressing global conservation issues.

For more information about the Aldo Leopold Writing Contest please visit: