Rural Voices Youth Contest

Congratulations to the 2017-2018 Rural Voices Youth Contest winners!

First Place Video Entry:  Sydney Johnson, Beloit Junior-Senior High School, Beloit, KS
First Place Written Entry:  David Lutgen, St. John’s Catholic High School, Beloit, KS

Click here to view the winning entry and read the winning essay.

The next contest deadline will be November 15, 2018. Further details will be announced and registration for the 2018-2019 Rural Voices Youth Contest will begin in September 2018.

The Rural Voices contest is sponsored by the North Central Regional Planning Commission (NCRPC), Beloit, Kansas, to engage the youth of North Central Kansas in thoughtful reflection on rural Kansas and to promote a discussion among citizens based on their insights. The contest, which launched in 2006, has now awarded more than $19,000 to high school seniors from around the region. Check the official rules to see if you are eligible to participate.

“Rural Kansas…If I Were in Charge”

The 2017-2018 Rural Voices Youth Contest theme is “Rural Kansas…If I Were in Charge.”
The NCRPC invites high school seniors in North Central Kansas to prepare an original essay or video based on the contest theme and address the following in their entries:

If you had the opportunity to be in a major decision making role in your community, what actions would you take that would have an immediate positive impact in your community? What actions would you take with a longer-term vision in mind? Explain how and why you would undertake these actions. Describe how your actions will improve your community.

NCRPC Rural Voices Youth Contest FlyerAwards:

  • A one-time cash award of $850 will be made to the winning entry in each media category.
  • Winning entries will be published on the North Central Regional Planning Commission website (
  • Winners will be recognized with the John R. Cyr Rural Voices Award. Cyr served for 22 years as the NCRPC Executive Director.

How to Submit a Written Entry:

  • Written entries are to be completed by an individual.
  • Entry should be reflective of the contest theme. See theme description above.
  • Written documents should be double spaced and 12-point font with one-inch margins. The student’s name should not appear on the entry.
  • Entry must be at least 1,000 words and may be fiction or non-fiction. An electronic word count feature will be used to verify that an entry meets minimum length requirements.
  • Written entries should be saved as a pdf file and submitted electronically to
  • Submit online contest registration form.

How to Submit a Video Entry:

  • Video entries may be completed by an individual or a team of up to four individuals. All team members shall be seniors in high school. Note that the $850 cash award for a first place video entry is for the total entry and not per person on a team. Teams will need to designate their payee(s) in the online contest registration form.
  • Videos must be at least three (3) minutes and must not exceed five (5) minutes in length.
  • Entry should be reflective of the contest theme. See theme description above.
  • All work must be original of the student entering, including any photos that may be incorporated into the video.
  • If music is used, no copyrighted music can be used without proof of written permission.
  • Use of good video technique is encouraged, including the use of a tripod if necessary.
  • Video entries should be uploaded to YouTube ( with a link sent to
  • Submit online contest registration form.

Official Rules:

Contest Entry Deadline

All entries AND online contest registration forms must be received electronically no later than 11:59 p.m. on November 15, 2017.*

Eligibility Criteria

Eligible: The contest is open to any senior in high school who lives in and/or attends a public or private high school whose district falls within the 12-county NCPRC service area* — including the counties of Clay, Cloud, Dickinson, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Marshall, Mitchell, Ottawa, Republic, Saline and Washington. Home school students in this same area may also enter.
*A student is eligible to enter if any portion of their school district’s official boundaries falls within the 12-county NCPRC service area.

Not Eligible: NCRPC employees and their immediate family members may not participate.

Additional Criteria

  • Entries are to be in the form of a written essay or a short video. All work must be original.
  • Only one entry per person (may enter either as an individual OR as part of a team; not both).
    *We suggest keeping a copy of the sent email so there is proof of a date mark prior to November 15, 2017, 11:59 p.m. in case technical difficulties arise. Late entries without such proof will not be considered. Receipt confirmation may also be obtained by emailing the contest coordinator at

The Rural Voices Contest is sponsored by the North Central Regional Planning Commission (NCRPC). The NCRPC is committed to advancing rural Kansas through comprehensive planning and development services. Its primary service area includes 12 counties and 83 cities in North Central Kansas.

For questions about the contest, please contact Lori Thielen, Rural Voices Contest Coordinator, at or 785-738-2218.

The NCRPC reserves the right to make no awards or partial awards based on the quality of the entries received.