MN biodiesel essay scholarship program accepting applications

By Erin Voegele | January 12, 2011

High school seniors in Minnesota have the opportunity to win a $1,000 scholarship by writing an essay on biodiesel. The program, which is in its fifth year, is sponsored by the American Lung Association in Minnesota and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association.

“We’re always looking for new ways to get young people involved and informed about biodiesel,” said Robert Moffitt, communications director for the Clean Fuel and Vehicle Technologies Program of the American Lung Association in Minnesota. “Minnesota is really a pioneering state for the use of biodiesel, and what better place to hold a biodiesel essay contest than here—the first state in the union to require biodiesel in all diesel sold…This is our fifth year, and we’ve always had a very good response. There is some very innovative and creative thinking out there from our young people, and we just wanted to be a part of that.”

According to Moffitt, two scholarships will be awarded this year. “The first place scholarship winner will receive $1,000 that they can use at the post-secondary school of their choice,” he said. “The second place winner will win a $500 scholarship.”

The program is open to any high school senior in Minnesota who wants to continue their education after high school, Moffitt said. It doesn’t matter what type of program the applicant is pursuing. In other words, the program is not limited to those pursuing degrees in agriculture or biofuels.

To enter the scholarship contest, applicants are required to write an essay on biodiesel in 1,000 words or less. Students are free to create their own biodiesel topics, or write an essay on one of three topics supplied by the program, including:

-       Biodiesel’s benefits to Minnesota

-       Expanding biodiesel’s use: opportunities and challenges

-       How you can impact biodiesel use in your area

Moffitt emphasizes that a strict deadline on applications is being enforced. He must receive the essays by 4:30 p.m. on March 30. Contestants are encouraged to submit their essays via an online form. However, essays that are emailed, mailed or faxed will also be accepted.

According to Moffitt, essays will be judged on several criteria, including accuracy of the information cited in the essays. “We are also looking for people who have a thorough understanding of biodiesel,” he said. “Then, we also give a lot of credit to creative thinking and original ideas. Our first place winner last year wrote an essay in the first person where he spoke as [if he were] biodiesel. It was very fun to read and just a really completely new way to look at doing the essay. I was very impressed.”

Those interested in learning more about the program can access a full list of essay guidelines and requirements on the Minnesota Clean Air Choice website.


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