2016-17 NCRA Young Authors’ Project

“Step Outside: Writing About the Natural World”

Local Council Guidelines and Responsibilities

The theme for the 2016-2017 Young Authors’ Project is “Step Outside: Writing About the Natural World.” Young Authors are encouraged to write about their personal experiences with the natural world or  investigate a natural world topic. Authors may write prose or poetry, fiction or non-fiction.


All entries must be original creations.
Only 1 entry per person may be submitted.
All entries must be submitted by a member of NCRA.


All entries should:

  • Use Microsoft WORD (not Works), and save as a .doc or .docx file.
  • Use 10-point, “Times New Roman” font, single-spaced, for the body of the piece.
  • Include an original title, typed in bold, 12-point type, with only the first letter of each major word in the title capitalized (e.g., Writing About the Natural World)
  • Include author information after the body of the piece. Skip two lines and then center the following information in 10-point:

Author’s first and last name
Teacher’s first and last name

** Please use the correct formatting for each entry. A flash drive with all correctly formatted entries must be included with the hard copies of entries at the time of entry submission.


Length of Entries

Grades K – 1:  Entries should have no more than 200 words.

Grades 2 – 5:  Entries should have no more than 300 words.

Grades 6-8: Entries should have no more than 400 words.

Grades 9 – 12 and Forever Young: Entries should have no more than 500 words.


Entry forms

A completed Young Authors’ 2016-2017 Entry Form must be taped to the back of each entry.

Number of Entries for a Local Council

  • The number of Young Authors’ entries your council may submit is determined by the number of members you have in NCRA, based on the previous year’s membership total or this year’s membership figure as of November 1, 2016, whichever is greater.


Number of Members Number of Entries
Developing Councils(active 2 years or less) 10
20-75 20
26-125 30
126-175 40
176-225 50
226-275 60
276-325 70
326+ 80
Council Favorite 1
Forever Young entries No more than 50% of total # of student entries

Council Favorite

  • Each council may choose one entry as a Council Choice. It will bypass the judging and automatically be included in the state publication.
  • This essay will add one (1) to the numbers above.
  • The Council Choice entry must be clearly marked as the “Council Choice” on the entry form.

Forever Young Entries

  • Forever Young entries do not count toward the number of entries noted above.
  • Adult entries should also be judged first at the local council level.
  • Forever Young authors must be members of NCRA.


Please contact your local council Young Authors representative for questions or concerns about the Young Authors Project.  You may also contact Jenni Carowan at ncraya@gmail.com

Young Authors Project Timeline 2016 – 2017


  • A member of your board should attend the NCRA Leadership conference June 28-29, where information about the project and guidelines for participation will be distributed.
  • This information must be passed on to the Young Authors Chair at each local council.
  • Contact Jenni  with any questions/concerns/requests for help or encouragement. ☺ 


  • Plan how your council will participate in this project. Decide how you will collect, judge, prepare entries for submission, and celebrate young authors from your local council.
  • Create the committees necessary to organize the Young Authors project and share the workload.
  • Contact Jenni with any questions/concerns/requests for help or encouragement. ☺ 


  • Complete the “Intent to Participate” form (see below) and send it to Jenni by October 31, 2016. You will be able to complete this form at the June Leadership Institute.
  • Promote the project and distribute guidelines and ideas to your members.
  • Encourage participation among your membership.
  • **We strongly suggest that you limit the number of submissions by each council member. Encourage your members to have their own contest at the classroom level, and choose the very best writing to submit to the local council.
  • Select a deadline for local submissions that will allow you enough time to judge and correctly format the submissions.


  • Begin to collect writing.
    Each entry must have an Entry Form (see form below) that is filled out completely and taped to the back of the writing. Make sure that the form has been signed by each author (regardless of age) and by parent/guardian (for authors under age 18) and that the local council information is filled out correctly, completely, and consistently. Please make sure that the contact information for the writer is clear and legible.
  • If there is any information missing on the entry form the essay will be disqualified.
  • Judge at the local level and choose your state-level entries according to allotted membership numbers.
  • Fill out the cover sheet called the “Young Authors Project Submission Form” (see below) for your council’s entries that must be sent in with the entries. Be sure to include a legible email address for the YA chair.
  • For state entries, make a hard copy for your records.
  • Save all entries to a flash drive and include the flash drive with the hard copies of your entries.  Please submit all of your state entries in one document with 4 line spaces between each entry.
  • Prepare the entries to be submitted to the state level using the specified formatting guidelines.
  • The Information Form from your local council must be included with your hard copy submissions. We will need contact information for your YA Chair and the names of two people from your local council who will help with the state judging on January 7, 2017.
  • Your entries should be received by Jenni no later than Friday, December 2, 2016.  Please mail them to:

Jenni Carowan
413 Saddlebrook Circle
Lewisville, NC  27023

Formatting Guidelines:

  • Microsoft WORD format (.doc or .docx)
  • Times New Roman font
  • Title: Capitalize only the first letter of each major word in the title, 12 point, bold print
  • Body: 10 point/ single-spaced
  • Skip two lines after the writing and then center author information below:

Author’s First and Last Name
Teacher’s First and Last Name

  • Contact Jenni with any questions/concerns/requests for help or encouragement. ☺ 


  • Judging will be held in January 7, 2017, in Raleigh. We will contact you with the specific location time. Please plan to send at least two representatives from your council to help us with the judging.
  • We will notify you as soon as the final decisions have been made.
  • Please notify your winners as soon as you receive notification that they will be published, and tell them about the state celebration on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at the Raleigh Convention Center. Registration for authors begins at 1:00 pm.  Please be sure to be there no later than 12:30 to help set up and register your council’s winners.
  • Contact Jenni with any questions/concerns/requests for help or encouragement. ☺ 


  • Send out invitations to the state Young Authors Celebration, and invite your authors and family members to a local celebration if you are having one.
  • We will be taking pre-orders for books. Please email Jenni with the number of extra books or shirts that you think you will need for your council. To pre-order, you must send a check for the number of books you would like.  There will be a few books for sale at the Celebration; all winners receive a complimentary book, and each participating council will receive a complimentary book.
  • Contact Jenni with any questions/concerns/requests for help or encouragement. ☺ 


  • The Young Authors Celebration will be held at 2:00 on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at the Raleigh Convention Center
  • All Young Author Chairs will be recognized at the State Celebration. Please plan to attend or send a representative from your council to take your place. You will be in charge of checking in your council’s winners and welcoming and congratulating the winners and their families. So, we want all Young Author Chairpersons to attend the state celebration at the Raleigh Convention Center.
  • Pick up books/medallions for winners who did not attend.
  • Distribute books/medallions to winners once you get back home.
  • Pat yourself on the back for a job well-done.  And then please see Jenni so she can give you another pat on the back!


Please celebrate your winners and the students/adults who participated in this project at your council level with some kind of recognition ceremony.