Rural Voices Youth Contest

Congratulations to the 2022 contest winners!

Rural Voices Youth Contest logo

  • Phillip Shirkey, Concordia Jr. Sr. High School
  • Hart Nurnberg, Southeast of Saline High School

View the winning entries.

About the Contest

The Rural Voices contest is sponsored by the North Central Regional Planning Commission (NCRPC), Beloit, Kansas. It was created 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. More than $27,000 has been awarded to high school seniors from around the region since the contest began in 2006.

It is anticipated that the next contest will be announced in Fall 2022 with a February 1, 2023 entry deadline.


The NCRPC invites high school seniors in North Central Kansas to prepare an original essay or video based on this year’s theme of “Rural Kansas…Tomorrow’s Leaders.” Entries should address the following: “Many rural communities encourage a culture of learning, leading and teaching that strengthens communities. How does your community in North Central Kansas develop passionate leadership and empower its residents? In what ways could your community encourage the young leaders it raises to return home? If you came back to be a leader in your community, what steps would you take to encourage the next generation of leaders?”

A one-time cash award of $850 will be made to the top two entries. 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. The award is named in honor of Cyr who served for 22 years as NCRPC Executive Director.

A registration form is to be completed and returned by the contest deadline (February 1, 2022). Find the fillable pdf form here.

Entry should be reflective of the contest theme. See theme description and reflection questions above. Entry must be at least 1,000 words and may be fiction or non-fiction. Entries that do not meet minimum length requirements will not be considered. Word counts will be checked. The title or any works cited pages (if used) are NOT to be included in the word count. Entry should be double spaced and 12-point font with one-inch margins. Entry must be the student’s original work. Written entries should be saved as a pdf file and submitted electronically to ruralvoices@nckcn.com. The student’s name should not appear on the entry, but should be used in the file name of the document. (For example, firstnamelastnameruralvoices.pdf). Complete and submit contest registration form by the deadline (February 1, 2022). Once the form is downloaded, it is a fillable pdf. Please note that a signature is required on the registration form. You may either scan and email the completed form with signature or print and mail. See instructions on the form.

Entry should be reflective of the contest theme. See theme description and reflection questions above. Video must be at least three (3) minutes and must not exceed five (5) minutes in length. 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 or Vimeo with a link sent to ruralvoices@nckcn.com. Complete and submit contest registration form by the deadline (February 1, 2022). Once the form is downloaded, it is a fillable pdf. Please note that a signature is required on the registration form. You may either scan and email the completed form with signature or print and mail. See instructions on the form.

Contest Entry Deadline – Tuesday, February 1, 2022 All entries must be received electronically no later than 11:59 p.m. on February 1, 2022.* Contest registration forms are due the same date. *We suggest keeping a copy of the sent email so there is proof of a date mark prior to the deadline in case technical difficulties arise. Late entries without such proof will not be considered. 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 NCRPC 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 NCRPC service area. Not Eligible: NCRPC employees and their immediate family members may not participate. The contest allows one entry per person.

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, email communications@ncrpc.org or call 785-738-2218.

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