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Cantu takes top prize in Earth Day Essay contest

May 3, 2016
By cnp
Posted in Traditions

Janae Cantu's essay "Parks vs. Reserves: The Implications of a Name," took top honors in the University of the Ozarks' eleventh annual Earth Day Essay Contest, announced last week.

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Junior Janae Cantu won the university’s fourth-annual Earth Day Essay contest for her paper, "Parks vs. Reserves: The Implications of a Name."

Cantu, a junior sociology major from Chouteau, Okla., won the $400 first-place Workman Award prize for her paper examining the environmental implications of using the word "parks" in our country’s national parks.

"The national park system was established for the enjoyment of the public, and to conserve the wildlife that live in these areas. However, the visitors to the parks have slipped into the mindset that the land is only there for their entertainment," Cantu said. "The government should change the name of national "parks" to national "reserves" in order to transform the visitors’ perception of the land. The next step in recreating the new image of the national reserve system is to change how the system is operated. Through the new operation, the visitors will be welcomed into the park, but with the understanding that the land is not just for their enjoyment. With this, the visitors will be coming into the reserves with more understanding of how their actions impact the environment, and meanwhile, the officials of the reserves should create strategies for maintaining visitor impact on the land. Taking these preemptive actions could help to protect the national parks for generations to come."

The second-place prize went to Maria Corea for her paper, "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People."

Third-place went to Samuel Binns’ "Homeward Bound: Pledging Allegiance to the Land," and fourth-place went to Debora Castro’s "The Land of National Parks and the Home of the Proud."

According to organizer Dr. Brian Hardman, associate professor of English, there were 25 essays submitted for this year’s contest.

"The competition for the top awards was quite fierce," Hardman said. "I want to give a special thanks to our judges - Doug Denne, Debbie Eldridge, and Amy Oatis - for their hard work and critical insights. And, as always, the contest would not happen without the generosity and support of Dr. Wayne and Ms. Betty Workman."

The essays can be read via the links below:

First Place: Janae Cantu, "Parks vs. Reserves: The Implications of a Name"

Second Place: Maria Corea, "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People"

Third Place: Samuel Binns, "Homeward Bound: Pledging Allegiance to the Land"

Fourth Place: Debora Castro, "The Land of National Parks and the Home of the Proud"