The 2021 Bell Prize

Tom Bell

DEADLINES FOR THE 2022 Bell Prize will be announced in summer 2022.

The editors of High Country News are pleased to announce a call for submissions for the fourth annual Bell Prize, which celebrates the indomitable spirit of our founder, Tom Bell. The Bell Prize honors thoughtful writing about the West by writers aged 18 to 25. We’re looking for stories about what it means to inhabit the Western U.S. at this time in history, whether essays, opinions, polemics or screeds. Topics are endless but could include climate change, water, drought, wildlife, public lands, Indigenous sovereignty, wildlife, wildfire, ecosystem restoration, renewable and nonrenewable energy, environmental history, outdoor recreation and any creative commingling of these topics.

Bell founded HCN in 1970, a time when there was little coverage of environmental issues in the West. He advocated for better management of public lands, helped persuade the Wyoming Legislature to pass laws advancing conservation goals, including strip-mine reclamation, and pressured the state’s Game and Fish Department to rely more on science than it had in the past. With this award, HCN seeks to encourage writers who share that spirit and are eager to promote new ideas about the modern West, challenging outdated, unhealthy and outright destructive attitudes about the region.

Entries should be no longer than 1,000 words. The winning essay will be published at and/or in a future print issue of High Country News.

Read on for more details.

• Receive the Bell Prize
• Receive $350 in merchandise from our sponsor Mountainsmith – Forging Gear to Last a Lifetime.
• Be published online and considered for publication in a 2022 print issue of High Country News.

• Receive $250 in merchandise from Mountainsmith – Forging Gear to Last a Lifetime.
• Be featured online

Please send one submission, and one only, to [email protected] (or click below), by Nov. 15, 2021.

1. Essayists must be between the ages of 18 and 25 (as of Jan. 1, 2022).
2. Authors must submit an unpublished, unedited essay written solely by the candidate.
3. Essays must be on a topic within High Country News' coverage: see above for more details.
4. Essays must not exceed 1,000 words.
5. Authors must submit their essays via email to [email protected].
6. Only one submission will be accepted per author. If the editors receive more than one submission from an author, none of the author's submissions will be considered.

• Submissions must be sent by midnight, Nov. 15, 2021. Essays should be emailed to [email protected].
• Students will not receive a confirmation, and essay materials will not be returned.

The editors will choose a first-place winner and a runner-up and will notify the winners by Dec. 15, 2021.

• Submissions plagiarized in whole or in part shall automatically be disqualified. Plagiarism is defined as “the act or an instance of copying or stealing another’s words or ideas and attributing them as one’s own.” Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to: 1) verbatim copying of another’s written or spoken work, in whole or in part, without the use of quotation marks and attribution and 2) failure to cite the paraphrasing of another’s thoughts or ideas so as to pass them off as one’s own.

• When you submit your essay to High Country News, if it is chosen as the winner or runner up, you transfer and assign to High Country News the exclusive first North American serial rights, plus the exclusive right to republish and distribute, and allow third parties to republish and distribute the work, for 180 days after publication. High Country News retains the right to distribute your work digitally (in formats including but not limited to our website, e-newsletter, and mobile device applications). High Country News also retains the non-exclusive right to give reprint permission, and to syndicate your essay to any and all media. All subsequent printings must mention that the article first appeared in High Country News. High Country News may use your name and likeness in publishing, promoting, advertising and publicizing its publication and information products and services. Exclusion of this clause may be permitted with the consent of the editor.

• In the event a situation arises that is not included herein, the organizers will resolve it at their own discretion and will inform the participants thereof. All decisions of the organizers are final.

• Submitting to the Bell Prize competition presupposes acceptance of the terms described herein.

The winning essay will receive the Bell Prize, a Mountainsmith gift card, online publication and be considered for print in future print issue of High Country News. The runner-up will receive a Mountainsmith gift card, and online publication.