The Foundation

Projects of the Neihardt Foundation

Neihardt Young Poets Contest

The Neihardt Young Poets contest, hosted by the John G. Neihardt Foundation, is free and open to all Nebraska students grades 5-12. Entries may be submitted via e-mail or mail; all entries must be postmarked/received by the deadline of June 1, 2017 to qualify.

Winners in both categories will receive a cash prize and publication in Word Sender, the Neihardt Foundation newsletter. Winners will also be invited to attend the 52nd annual Neihardt Day celebration on August 6, 2017 to present their poem (attendance is optional). Poems will also be on display at the Neihardt Center museum throughout the contest year.

Category: High School (Grades 9-12)

Prize: First $50; Second $25; Third $15

Category:Middle School/Junior High (Grades 5-8)                       

Prize: First $50; Second $25; Third $15


Criteria: Entries are judged without the listing of the participant names and are scored on originality and the sense of the craft of poetry shown in the work. The decision of the judges is final.

Entry Guidelines:

  1. Poems must utilize at least one of many themes emphasized by Neihardt in his writing, including but not limited to: the American West, Native American culture and people, explorers, trappers and pioneers; animals, landscape and natural environment. Poems may also utilize Nebraska’s 150th statehood celebration as a theme.
  2. Entries must be original, unpublished, not submitted or accepted elsewhere for publication or broadcast, and not entered simultaneously in any other competition. This includes different versions of the same poem.
  3. No more than one (1) entry per poet.
  4. Winners will be notified by June 30, 2017. Only winners and teachers of first, second and third place awards will be contacted. Students will be invited to read their poetry at the Neihardt Day celebration at the Neihardt State Historic Site in Bancroft on August 6, 2017. All three place winners’ work from each category will appear in a quarterly issue of Word Sender, the Neihardt Foundation newsletter, and be on display throughout the year at the Neihardt Center museum, with additional publication opportunities possible.
  5. Mail entries to: Neihardt Foundation, P.O. Box 344, Bancroft, NE 68004, or e-mail to: by June 1, 2017.
  6. Each entry must include the following information (see form below): Title of poem, student name, grade, address and contact phone number, school name and address, teacher name and contact phone number.

Fill in the entry form (or simply include the required information) and submit to: Neihardt Foundation, P.O. Box 344, Bancroft, NE 68038

Or via e-mail: with subject: Poetry Contest 2017.


2017 contest



Board Members

Dr. Jon Cerny, President

Paul Hammel, Vice-President

Jon Bailey, Secretary

Nancy Gillis, Treasurer

  • Tim Anderson
  • Pat Browning
  • Dr. Michael Carroll
  • Garry Clark
  • Cynthia Cooper
  • Walter M. Duda
  • Dr. Steve Elliott
  • Mike Fisk
  • Joe Green
  • Mary M. Hines
  • Dr. David J. Hoelting
  • James C. Hulstein
  • Randy Lukasiewicz
  • Dick Moodie
  • Joy and Robin Neihardt
  • Lori Utecht
  • Gail Toedebusch
  • Merlyn Vogt
  • Patty Wegner

Neihardt Journal

The first issue of the Neihardt Journal was published in November, 1999. In her Forward to the first issue, then Foundation Chairman Hilda Neihardt wrote, "Our Spring Conference has been enriched by many notable speakers. To preserve their valuable contributions and to make them available to people, the idea of their collection in a journal was born, and with this issue it becomes a reality."

The first issue featured presentation from the 1998 Spring Conference, which was on the theme "John Neihardt, the Writer." It featured articles by New York Times writer Tim Anderson, by Brian Holloway, professor of English at the College of West Virginia, and by former Neihardt Center Director, Dr. Lori Utecht.

The Journal is published annually and sent to members of the Neihardt Foundation as a part of member services.