Environmental journalism students win Michigan Outdoor Writers Association awards

Great Lakes Echo writer Jack Armstrong is the winner of the 2023 Michigan Outdoor Writers Association/Toyota “Let’s Go Places” competition.

It is the first time the annual award has been based on photography.

Bob Vogel, the president of the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association, presents Jack Armstrong, with the association’s 2023 “Let’s Go Places” Award underwritten by Toyota Motors North America.

Armstrong is using the $2,500 award to upgrade his photography gear as he pursues a career in communicating the outdoors experience. The money “will further my environmental photography projects, both professional and personal.”

Earlier this summer, Armstrong participated in the School of Journalism’s Education Abroad photojournalism program in Kenya where he photographed wildlife. MSU journalism professor Judy Walgren led the program.

“I’m majoring in journalism and environment, science and health reporting and minoring in media photography and environmental science,” Armstrong said. “I cover solutions to tricky environmental problems, like tech that could one day make fuel from carbon exhaust.”

Tom Carney, who chairs the MOWA board of directors, cited Armstrong’s photo essay detailing the state’s brief sturgeon season held each February, saying, “His use of a variety of camera angles and photo types was particularly impressive. It gave a great indication of how hard he worked the event.”

And Claire Watts, a judge in the competition, said, “Wow! Great photos, I feel immersed in his work and felt engaged in the sturgeon festival” and pointed to the “energy and passion” that fueled his application letter.

In addition to the money, the award paid Armstrong’s expenses to attend the annual MOWA conference and included up to five years as an apprentice member of the organization.

Two other environmental journalism students also won recognition in the competition. Cameryn Cass was voted second and Genevieve Fox third.

With financial support from Toyota Motors North America the “Let’s Go Places” competition is open to college students from Michigan whose career plans include communicating outdoors experiences on such topics as public lands, wildlife diseases, water quality challenges, outdoor recreational activities and nature writing, according to MOWA.

“The goal of the award is to help subsidize the efforts of these individuals as they take the next steps toward achieving their career goals, “MOWA said in announcing the award. “A unique feature of this program is that while the award might be used like a scholarship, awardees are not restricted to using their prize money for school expenses only. They may apply their funds in any way that helps them grow professionally as communicators.”






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