2021 Crane-Inspired Creative Arts Scholarship Contest Winning Entries
We are pleased to share with you the winning entries in the 2021 high school senior Crane-Inspired Creative Arts Scholarship Contest!
The work has to be original and accurately reflect the physical characteristics, behavior, and habitat of our Greater Sandhill Cranes. Judging is done by a panel of experts in each category. Thank you to the generous donations of two of our crane supporters who fund this contest.
In honor of our 10th year, we are giving away $10,000 in scholarships this year. The 1st Place Winners of each category will receive a $3000 scholarship for continuing education. The 2nd Place Winners of each category will receive a $1500 scholarship for continuing education. This year there is no Honorable Mention, instead we awarded two 2nd Place Winners for Category 2. Please be advised that all of these pieces of work are protected by copyright. See winning entries below.
Category 1 – Written Arts
1st Place Winner: Kendra Sollars, “Maybe We Are Not So Different” (Steamboat Springs High School)
2nd Place Winner: Alexa Neton, “Wetland Gems: Home Again, Unafraid, and 25 Million Years” (Moffat County High School)
Category 2 – Visual Arts
1st Place Winner: Leilani Ward, “Sandhill Soulmates” (Steamboat Springs High School)
2nd Place Winners:
Sienna Marie Russell, “The Cranes of Colorful Colorado” (Soroco High School)
Alyssa Rodriguez, “Sandhill Reflections” (Moffat County High School)
Category 3 – Performing Arts
Winning Entries: Visual Arts
by Leilani Ward
The Cranes of Colorful Colorado
by Sienna Marie Russell
by Alyssa Rodriguez
Winning Entries: Written Arts
Maybe We Are Not So Different
by Kendra Sollars
My brothers look magnificent against the rugged San Juan Mountains. Their feathers of icy grey and ornate yellow look enchanting against the miles and miles of greasewood shrubs. Broad wings stretch out wide towards the Rio Grande River which seems to sing with joy. Long necks reach towards the beautifully pale sky in triumph. However, looming in the distance are the humans. We are so different. They stay in one town their whole lives, using resources like a greedy child consumes candy. We migrate through the valley every spring and fall, constantly moving. With such spectacular wings, why wouldn’t we? Black smoke billows out of towers into the air without a care. The humans sit in their homes and stare at their televisions, eyes glazed over. Meanwhile, we run and jump across the valley, dancing extravagantly because we are filled with jubilation. The humans know nothing of love. We mate for life, but they have such a lack of loyalty that they must make new friends every other day. We value everything; they value nothing. As I said, we are so very different.
For years, we have avoided the humans. They have taken some of our brothers that had nothing to offer but beauty. Surly men invade our homes and we hear deafening bangs that change our lives forever. Why would anyone want to destroy the life of a creature designed only to benefit the world? Every time boots crunch across the terrain, my brothers stretch their extraordinarily strong legs and sprint into the dusty distance of the valley, away from the impending threat. Upon the unlucky circumstance that one of my brothers does not escape, he must observe the face of the human. The man always looks angry, but we do not understand why. Surrounded by this glorious landscape, I do not understand how anyone could manage a frown. Suddenly, his face is covered by a piece of repulsive metal. The human is so selfish, and because of his greed, we lose one of our own.
I have been told that there is a different kind of human. My brothers have told me stories of humans that have moved with grace through our habitat, taking care to never step on any of the greasewood shrubs and to never get too close. They make no noise except a small gasp of wonder when one of my brothers spreads his wings. Finally, a human that understands how I feel about our species and this mythical terrain that we have been given to live on. Although I have never encountered such a human, I imagine what they must be like. They move from town to town, exploring as much of this planet as they can. Televisions and black smoke are the furthest things from their minds. They know everything about love. Animals and plants and humans and even the rocks on the ground live together in harmony in the minds of these people. They stare at the San Juan Mountains and think about how vast they are and how months from now they will be covered in picturesque snow. Rays of sunshine radiate on their faces as they feel just as much glee as the Rio Grande river does as it snakes across the land. And the biggest smile yet comes across their face as they peer upon me and my brothers, knowing that they have the power to bring us peace.
My trance is broken as a loud bang goes off in the distance. My brothers begin their daily jog back into the sunset where they might be safe again. I turn to follow them, but something compels me to stop. I glance towards the sound of the bang and realize that three people stand at its origin. Only one of the humans is holding one of those repulsive pieces of metal, and the two others seem to be speaking harshly to him. The surly man retorts, but the defenders stand their ground. After a moment of silence, the surly man turns around and walks away. Only the defenders remain. They move a bit closer to where I am perched elegantly among the wilderness, and I am able to see their faces. The humans are very old, but they are filled with youth. In this instance, I know that they are some of the humans that my brothers told me about. Feathers of brilliant gold and pale white amaze them as much as they amaze me. Eyes that match the dazzling sun surrounded by deep red coloring fill these humans with as much joy as they fill me with. I call my brothers back. The humans make the awed gasp that my brothers explained they would. Maybe we are not so different.
by Alexa Neton
The smell of newly awakening earth fills the air,
nesting grounds thaw
gangly elongated legs effortlessly move through the shallow water, a loud but sweet sound echoes through the Yampa Valley,
a dance ensues.
It is time to rejoice.
Through a dry barren winter,
Their journey ends, and we are elated.
they are home! they are home!
The Greater SandHill cranes are home again.
constrained by a gentle shell barrier
the colt now softly chirps her sweet melody unafraid to sing.
unafraid of being heard.
Young, but fearless.
slowly, curiosity becomes her
her young gawky legs unfold and carry her to the water she is compelled,
exiting her safe nest that rests on the hard ground. she begins to dance.
unafraid of the impending dangers of the world around her She is beautiful, she is free.
“25 million years”
25 million years
Greater SandHill Cranes have remained. untouchable.
As hunter gatherers ravaged for berries, As Veterans returned home from war,
As Natural disasters ensued,
As wars prevailed,
As famine devastated,
As global pandemics killed,
The cranes remained.
As the world exploded,
lit on fire
And fell apart around them,
Singing and dancing,
The wetland gems of the world. Elegant, graceful, cheerful
even as the world around them darkens. Their effortless beauty remains untouchable.