The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 22, 2006

Annual Wild Iowa Essay Project Seeks Submissions By March 15

Organizers of the state's second annual Wild Iowa Essay Project are seeking submissions of writings that explore the idea or experience of wildness, especially as it relates to the state of Iowa.

The Wild Iowa Essay Project, which is open to Iowans of all ages and does not require an entry fee, encourages thoughtful, effective essays about the wild in Iowa. The project is not a contest so much as an organized opportunity to inspire people of all ages to think and write about what the wild is and could be in Iowa.

Essays must be previously unpublished, may not exceed 3,000 words and must be submitted by March 15. They may use specific examples and personal experiences and should address one or more of the following questions:.

* What does/should "wildness" mean to Iowans?

* How have we moved away from the wild in Iowa, and what harm has that caused?

* Where does the wild still exist in Iowa?

* How can Iowans "rewild"?

* What would a "wilder Iowa" be like?

Authors of essays selected by the committee will receive cash awards of up to $300. Essays of awardees who submit their work electronically will be published on the Wild Iowa Essay Project website, Additionally, awardees will be invited to read from their essays publicly at the Second Annual Iowa Conference on the Wild, "Live Well, Live Wild," at the UI April 24-25.

"Considering the idea of the 'wild' in Iowa may be counter-intuitive to some," said Thomas Dean, special assistant to the UI President, founder of the Iowa Project on Place Studies (IPOPS), and an adjunct assistant professor of literature, science and the arts. "Iowa is the most biologically altered state in North America: 93 percent of our land is put to agricultural use, and 5 percent is dedicated to cities and towns. Over 60 percent of Iowa's 36 million acres is devoted to growing corn and beans. There are no national parks or forests in Iowa. Taking agricultural land into account, Iowa is the most developed state in our country.

"On the one hand, we hope that Iowans will desire more wild areas in the state," Dean added. "At the same time, we hope this essay project also helps Iowans explore the wild that we do have, whether it's in small patches in our backyards, in corners of our farms, in our state parks, or in our spirits and imaginations."

IPOPS is co-sponsoring the project with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. An interdisciplinary group of UI faculty and staff, IPOPS members study the concept of place and its manifestations worldwide and who foster collaborative projects with local, state and regional communities. The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation's Agrestal Fund ("agrestal" meaning "not domesticated or cultivated; growing wild in the field") and its partners aspire to foster a statewide rumination about holding on and letting go; about personal and collective journeys seeking balance in nature and life; and the free human spirit living within us all.

Essays will be read on their own terms and within their own contexts by the Wild Iowa Essay Project Committee. The committee will look for thoughtful and original ideas about the wild; quality of exposition and expression; and potential contribution to furthering human wisdom in relation to understanding and experiencing the wild. Entrants are not competing against each other.

Essays may be submitted in "Youth" and "Adult" categories. Older youth (e.g., high school students) may self-select submission into either category. Entrants should also send a cover sheet containing the essay's title, the "Youth" or "Adult" category designation, author's name, age (youth only), address, phone number and email address. The entrant's name should not appear on the essay itself.

At the end of the essay, the author should include a 50-word biography that does not mention his or her name.

Essays may be emailed as Microsoft Word attachments to Entrants unable to submit via e-mail may submit their essays via standard mail to Thomas K. Dean, Office of the President, 101 Jessup Hall, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242. If sending by standard mail be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped postcard for acknowledgement of receipt of the essay.

The names, home communities and essay titles of all entrants will be published on the Wild Iowa Essay Project website, regardless whether they are selected by the committee.

For more information about the project, contact Dean at, or by phone at 319-335-1995. Or visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,; Program: Thomas Dean, 319-335-1995,