Freshman wildlife conservation major Christina Nelson of Purcellville, Virginia, won first place in the annual VOWA (Virginia Outdoor Writers Association)/Dominion Collegiate Undergraduate Writing Contest. Nelson wrote about a hunting trip that changed the way she thought about nature in her essay “Into the ‘Real’ World.” She also submitted a hand-drawn sketch of a deer to complement her writing. “Writing this essay about my experience really helped me think through quite a few personal questions that I have had about my future in wildlife studies,” Nelson explained. “Only after reflecting on it through writing my essay did I realize that those types of questions can only be understood through experience.”

“This experience broadened and deepened my understanding of the natural world, and I look forward to seeing where it takes me,” she continued. “I have always wanted to incorporate creativity into my love of the outdoors, and it was very encouraging to be able to participate in a contest that allowed me to combine the two!”