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Essay Contest

The Gordon W. Dillon \ Richard C. Peterson Memorial Essay Prize is an annual writing competition. The winner receives a cash prize and a certificate suitable for framing. Open to amateur and professional writers, it was established in 1985 by the AOS Northeast Judging Center to honor the memory of two former editors of the AOS Bulletin (now Orchids). Gordon Dillon served as editor from 1943 through 1968 and again from 1970 through 1973. Richard Peterson's name first appeared on the masthead of the AOS Bulletin in April 1971 as associate editor. In 1973, he was named editor and, upon Dillon's retirement in 1977, he became the executive director, retaining his position of editor through 1984.

Past Winners

Since the contest was established, the writing competition has recognized many talented authors ... including more than a few who didn't think they had it in them! The AOS thanks and proudly lists these past winners:

1985 judywhite -- Surveying the Mixed-Up Realm of Orchid Potting Materials
1986 No winner
1987 Leon Glicenstein, PhD -- Reminiscences of Orchids
1988 Ruth P. Fox -- Making Do With a Bloom or Two
1989 Kevin Donohue -- Orchids I Have Killed: What Every Beginner Should Know
1990 Karen and David Hamilton -- Where's Daddy? Life with an Orchidist
1991 Cheryl Brooks -- Smart Solutions: A Little Ingenuity and a Few Spare Parts
1992 Glen Snyder -- Orchidscapes: Letting Them Loose in Your Own Back Yard
1993 Edward S. Wright -- Not by the Book
1994 Thomas Powell -- Light-wise Orchid Growing
1995 Philip Seaton -- Pest Control My Way
1996 Loren Batchman -- Hybridizing for Summer or Early-Flowering Novelty Cymbidiums
1997 David Grove, PhD -- The Properties of Potting Materials for Orchids
1998 Renate L. de Zacks, PhD -- Cooking Up Conservation
1999 Enid Rosenthal -- How I Grow Orchids
2000 David Niemann -- Orchid Propagation
2001 Eric Hsu -- Darwin's Orchid Obsession
2002 Rosalie Dixler -- Adventures of an Orchid Exhibitor
2003 Ellen Kennedy -- Our Orchids
2004 Christopher Croom -- Fresh Peaches to New-Car Interior: Compact Fragrant Species Orchids Run the Gamut of Odors
2005 Mary Jo Gilsdorf -- Adaptive Repotting Approach
2006 Laima Swanson -- Moving an Orchid Collection
2007 No Winner
2008 Steve Marak -- Orchids Grown for Foliage
2009 Brian Monk -- My American Orchid Society
2010 Janet Vinyard - Green, Green, Indeed, They Say
2011 David Taft - Seen and Not Seen
2012 Sarah Waddoups - Playing Angraecoid Go Fish
2013 Ellen Coss Kennedy - Finding Space for One More Orchid
2014 Amal Cooke - Growing Orchids: Art or Science?

2014 Dillon/Peterson Essay

The theme for 2015 is: Phrases that Confuse me the Most and What They Really Mean. Can you get better blooms by using a certain fertilizer or nutritional supplement, or by talking to your orchids? Tell us what you think. Membership in the American Orchid Society is not necessary to enter the contest. The deadline will be November 30, 2015. The winning entry, if any, is published in the June issue of the following year. 

Contest Rules

º The essay must be an original, unpublished article.
º The contest is open to all persons except employees of the American Orchid Society and their immediate families.
º Submissions must be no more than 5,000 words in length.
º Manuscripts must be submitted in English, typewritten and double-spaced.
º Submissions will be judged without knowledge of the identity of the author. The decision of the judges is final. If no entries meet the expected criteria of excellence, the award will be withheld.
º Artwork is not necessary for entering this competition.
º Nonwinning entries will be returned to the contestant if requested. Such entries are eligible for resubmission in subsequent contests. These nonwinning entries will also be considered for publication by the editor of Orchids and may be used in Orchids or other AOS publications including the AOS website. Submissions will not be eligible for consideration in future contests.

Submit entries to the Dillon/Peterson Memorial Essay Prize attn: Ron McHatton, The American Orchid Society at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 33156,or via email to