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State Historical Society holding preservation essay contest

The State Historic Preservation Office of the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre is holding an essay contest. Prizes will be awarded to the top three essays during Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month, which is celebrated in May.

The competition is open to any fourth-grade public, private, or home school student who studies South Dakota history. The essay contest will expose students to an appreciation of their historic places, the stories they tell, and why they should be preserved for future generations, according to Benjamin F. Jones, state historian and director of the State Historical Society.

“We look forward to sponsoring this contest and seeing what places and stories students come up with,” said Jones. “We think it will give students a better understanding of their history and culture.”

With the theme of “This Place Matters,” students are asked to write a 100–400-word handwritten essay about any South Dakota location that is at least 50 years old, why it is their favorite place, and why it should be preserved. It does not need to be a historic site and writing a history of the location is not necessary.

The deadline for sending in essays is March 18. Entries should be sent to: SHPO Student Essay Contest, Cultural Heritage Center, 900 Governors Drive, Pierre SD 57501-2217. Entries will be judged on quality of writing, content and theme, and originality of thought. Prizes will be awarded for first, second, and third places. 

The first-place winner will receive a $100 cash prize and a one-year family membership to the South Dakota State Historical Society (a $55 value). The second-place winner will receive a $75 cash prize and a one-year family membership to the society. The third-place winner will receive a $50 cash prize and a one-year family membership to the society. The winning entries will be posted on the society’s website at during the month of May. 

Additional information, including complete guidelines and an entry form, are posted on the above website under “In the Spotlight” on the right, then “Archaeology & Historic Preservation Month.” Questions may be directed to Katherine Shroyer at 605-773-2907 or 

About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution since 2013, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing, and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.

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