UIMF Hosts Utah High School Essay Contest on Family Farming

Fourth Utah High School Essay Contest on Family Farming Hosted by the UIMF

ff1 The Utah International Mountain Forum’s (UIMF) most recent project was the annual essay contest based on U.N. yearly themes. This year the theme was ‘Family Farming’. Family farming is a topic close to the heart of the UIMF, due its importance in Utah culture. According to the U.N.’s website on the International Year of Family Farming, the topic has significant implications globally. Family farming is key to world food security; it allows for agricultural, diet, and biological diversity, and sustains local economies for communities throughout the world.

ff2 Orem Public Library, UIMF traditional partner to host Utah high school essay contests

The essays came from a number of Utah High Schools.  The contest has been steadily growing each year that UIMF has held it with the support of the Mountain Partnership, Utah Valley University (UVU), and the Orem Public Library. Dozens of members of the UIMF and students at UVU helped make this contest possible. Joseph McCain, President of the UIMF, organized the students in their efforts. These students contacted schools throughout Utah, and spoke with dozens of students themselves to promote the essay contest. As a tradition Dr. Keith Snedegar, a professor in History and Political Science Department, chaired the committee, judging essays and advising student activities during all stages of the essay contest.

The contestants wrote on topics ranging from the impact of industrial farming to urban gardens (as they relate to family farming). Compelling arguments were made by young people from all over Utah, showing that these students have a keen awareness of major issues regarding farming and food.  A general theme of the importance of family farms, despite the tide of factory farms, ran throughout the contest.

ff3 Brayten Torsak from Provo High School won the first prize

 Brayten Torsak won this year with his essay on urban agriculture. Torsak made a strong argument for the feasibility of easing world hunger through small family based urban gardens. Miranda Fisher from Copper Hills High School and Melody Hatcher from Salem Hills High School came in second and third place respectively.

All winners received monetary prizes in addition to being awarded with special certificates signed by the members of the organizing committee under the leading role of Dr. Rusty Butler Associated Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy and the focal point for the Mountain Partnership at UVU. In addition their essay will be included in the second volume of ‘Youth in the Mountains,’ a recently created journal for students research papers. Its first volume was inaugurated during the Fourth Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership in Erzurum, Turkey on September 18, 2013.

The night of the awards ceremony held at the Orem Public Library allowed for the students to make presentations regarding their essays. Those in attendance were allowed to ask questions of the presenters. This was a productive element of the competition, as the students were challenged at certain times to defend their positions and further explain the arguments made in their papers. In general, this essay contest gave opportunities to the students that they otherwise would not have had.

ff4Audience at the Orem Public Library

 The UIMF’s goal has been to work towards greater community and academic engagement. The essay competition was an effective tool in furthering these efforts. Not only were people from throughout Utah able to participate but students with different academic backgrounds from UVU all played integral roles in the process of making this competition successful.

 Christopher Wiltsie, Vice President of UIMF, President of the Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU 

Event Schedule:


Organizing Committee 

Prize Winners:

First Place – Brayten Torsak – Provo High School

“Brayten Torsak”

Second Place – Maranda Fisher – Copper Hills High School

“No Food”

Third Place – Melody Hatcher – Salem Hills High School

“Growing Population”

Submitted Essay’s:

Katie Barber “The Intermountain West’s Condensing Farm Culture”

Lorilie Spegar “Essay”

Madeline Gardner “The Affects of Factory Farming on Society”

Morgan Wykstra “Mountainous Farmer Seed Availability”

Samantha Hawkins “Would Integrating the Terrace Method be Beneficial to Utah Farming?”

Alley Meredith “Border Cattle Industry”

Gus Keetch “Traditional Vaquero Stockmanship VS. Modern Handling Techniques”

Jenny Breedlove “We’re the American Farmer and We’re Here to Stay”

Swasey Bliss “Family vs. Industrial Farming”

Savanna Martinson “Family Farming vs. Industrial Farming”

Sakia Brost “Family Farming”

Kylee Beckstead “Essay”

Tiffany Anderson “The New Predator”

Wyatt Davis “First Year Farmer”

UVU Student Thoughts About Contest 


Greetings from VIP’s:


14-04-14-UVU letterhead 2014-04 high schools-CORR

UVU Press Release