Young Environmental Writers Contest 2012

It has been an exciting year.

Last fall, when we decided to host a young environmental writers competition – the only one of its kind as far as we know – we at SAGE Magazine hoped to hear from a few young writers and environmental professionals.  We wanted to create a space for them to share their work and give voice to their unique stories.  And we hoped we might even get a few authors from outside of Yale University, our home base, and the Northeast, our home region.

What we actually got was simply astonishing:  more than 300 submissions of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and environmental art flooded in from almost a dozen different countries representing every continent except Antarctica (next time).

Selecting three winners from this fantastic pile was a herculean task, and many of you grew despondent that we would ever arrive at a final choice!

Luckily we had a pretty impressive panel of celebrity judges to make that last call for us (whew), including:

– Bill McKibben, Author, Educator, and Environmentalist

– Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, Staff Writer

– Steve Hawk, Sierra Magazine, Executive Editor; Surfer Magazine, Former Editor-in-Chief

– Jon Mooallem, New York Times Magazine, Contributor

– Scott Dodd,, Editor; Columbia School of Journalism, Adjunct Professor

Thanks to everyone who submitted work, wrote, called, read, hemmed and hawed, to us and for us.  If you didn’t win this year, don’t feel bad – we had an amazing crop of stories and our final decision was difficult.  Please submit again next year.  And thanks again to our illustrious judges, who graciously made the truly tough decision.

NOW, what you’ve all been waiting for:  the winners of this year’s Young Environmental Writers Contest.


THIRD PLACE – $100 Prize 

Ice Rink at 16,000 Feetby Amy Higgins.

The piece: Climate change threatens the livelihoods of famers in Ladakh, India’s ancient mountain town, who depend on dwindling glaciers for water.  In this winning piece Amy Higgins explores an unlikely solution to this increasingly likely problem.

The author: Amy first found her way to the Himalayas as a teacher with Vermont Intercultural Semesters. She stayed in Ladakh for three years, working with a local NGO, the Leh Nutrition Project, and later supported by a grant from the National Geographic Society, as part of their Young Explorer’s Program. Amy is a graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she studied climate change and energy policy.


SECOND PLACE – $300 Prize 

Just Enough – by Mira Mackinam

The piece: “Just Enough” immerses us in a fishing community in Southern Thailand, where dwindling fish stocks force young villagers to make a difficult choice: whether to leave their homes to pursue their fortunes abroad, or adhere to a traditional way of life, even if it leads to poverty.

The author: Mira Manickam has been a regular visitor to Thailand for over ten years as a conservation officer for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a masters student at the Yale School of Forestry, and a documentary filmmaker.  She is currently celebrating women’s surfing adventures along the coast of Brazil through music and hip hop videos.


FIRST PLACE – $500 Prize 

Wager for Rain – by Megan Kimble

The piece: For decades, Southwestern scientists have tried to engineer their way out of a chronic water shortage problem. Are their best solutions any less an act of prayer than a rain dance?  Megan Kimble takes us through America’s new wager for rain.

The author: Megan Kimble runs, hikes, and bikes around Tucson, where she’s a student in the University of Arizona’s MFA program for creative nonfiction. She writes for the Los Angeles Times and, and has edited several books. You can find her on her blog, at, or in her kitchen, where she’s often making chocolate or burning toast.


That’s it, everyone!

Now go and read these stories.  They are good – some of the best we’ve read.  And stay tuned for our contest finalists, who will be published here throughout the summer and fall.

Sage Editors

SAGE Magazine is a publication of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

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  1. Pingback: Winners of SAGE Magazine Young Environmental Writers Contest

  2. Angshuman Das says:

    Do you have any honorable mentions?

  3. Pingback: Fishing for Happiness | Mira Manickam

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