Marin students catch up on photography and writing contest


Marin County students won more than half of the prizes in a statewide outdoor media competition, organizers said.

The Pat Vachini Outdoor Writing Contest, which awards photography and outdoor writing prizes to California high school students, is organized by the Outdoor Writers Association of California, said Bob Semerau, its director.

“Being in nature is healing, as we are currently experiencing with people wanting to enjoy parks and recreation areas safely during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Semerau said. “This award encourages high school students to consider careers in outdoor journalism so they can inspire readers to explore the outdoors.”

Of 19 students from six high schools who won honors, 11 were from Novato High School and Novato High School’s Marin School of the Arts.

In photography, Tiffany Vuong from the Marin School of the Arts won first place in the flora and fauna category. Vuong submitted three photos, including “Red Suns”, a photo of a persimmon which is posted on the association’s website at

Slade Merrick David and Taylor Wong, both of Novato High School, for submissions in the flora and fauna category, tied for second and third place in the photography division.

Chris Tsiu Aban of Novato High School and Brenda Esther Noosim Wangui of Marin School of the Arts, who won the stage category, also tied for third.

In the poetry division, Booker Wegner, Marcie Parmenter and River Evison-Behrman, all students at the Marin School of the Arts, took first, second and third place respectively.

In the essay division, Amitza Felix, Sonja Fish and Lee Tiller, all students of the Marin School of the Arts, also took first, second and third place respectively.

The contest offers rewards of up to $1,000.

Peter Schroeder, author and program administrator, congratulated participants in this year’s contest for the top tier of submissions.

“Entries were judged by a panel of industry professionals who commended the nominees for their content, originality and skill,” Schroeder said.

The competition, open to juniors and seniors, was launched in 2020. It is named after Patricia Vachini, the late wife of Don Vachini, a longtime member of the association.


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