SEJ Emerging Environmental Journalist Award

SEJ’s member-driven award program will help guide students into careers covering environmental issues.

The SEJ Emerging Environmental Journalist Award, launched in Oct 2015, recognizes students with outstanding potential in environmental journalism. And the program offers individuals the chance to directly advance SEJ’s mission with university and college officials. See the winners: 2017  | 2016

Here’s how it works:

SEJ members and others can pay for a one-year $25 student membership* for a college or university to use to recognize promise in environmental journalism.

The institution sets the criteria and the selection process. SEJ provides a congratulatory letter from the SEJ president. Students gain an entry on their resumé.

This can kickstart a budding environmental journalist’s career. A key part of the program is the sponsor's direct involvement with the school to set up the recognition.

SEJ must be notified of winners before May 1 of each year. That provides time to recognize students at end-of-year awards ceremonies.

And that early career boost might just give them the push they need to stay in the field and become active members after graduation.

The program was announced at SEJ’s 2015 annual conference in Norman, Okla., in October.

* Eligibility criteria apply. Students must not be engaged in paid public relations work concerning environmental issues, or paid lobbying concerning environmental issues to be eligible for SEJ membership.

Ready? Just follow these simple instructions:

To help kick-start a journalism student's career:

1. Reach out to your contact at the college of your choice. When your contact has agreed, email this URL to your university contact:


 The form includes instructions, and asks for student information, a brief description of the student's qualifications and a selfie of the student.

Be sure to get this information to your university contact in time for the deadline to be met. March is good; April is pushing it.

2. When your contact has selected a student, you'll be notified by SEJ staff. At that time, write out a $25 check and include on the memo line: Journalism Student Recognition: [STUDENT NAME]. Make your check payable to Society of Environmental Journalists and mail to:

Society of Environmental Journalists
1629 K Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006

Students will receive a one-year membership in SEJ* and an entry on their résumé. 

* Eligibility criteria apply. Students must not be engaged in paid public relations work concerning environmental issues, or paid lobbying concerning environmental issues to be eligible for SEJ membership.

Thanks for supporting up-and-coming journalists!

FAQs on the new program

Q: So all I have to do is write a $25 check and let SEJ find an interested institution?
A: No. This is your opportunity to carry the SEJ flag. While SEJ will invest staff time to provide the awards, it can’t create a new program seeking relationships with random institutions. SEJ needs you to build and expand upon your relationships with the college(s) of your choice.
Q: Does this work only at schools with environmental journalism courses?
A: It works anywhere students have an opportunity to produce environmental journalism worthy of recognition. That may come in a public affairs, science or other reporting class. It could be produced during an internship or as a freelancer.
Q: That’s not a lot of money. Can I contribute more?
A: Sure. Some have suggested also paying for SEJ annual conference registrations at about $150. But remember that registration isn’t the only cost of a conference. Even if you cover the registration, some students will not be able to attend because of travel and hotel costs.
Q: Can I buy more than one?
A: Absolutely. You could provide one to several institutions. Or you provide several to one institution.
Q: How often do I have to contribute?
A: That’s up to you. But rather than buying multiple memberships one year, you might consider buying one membership each year for multiple years. Of course you could do both.
Q: So SEJ decides who gets the award?
A: No. You make sure that the faculty at the institution knows that the decision is their task. They decide the criteria and the winner. It is very much a locally driven recognition.
Q: What more does a donor have to do?
A: Once the institution picks a winner, a form with the student's name and contact information will be sent to SEJ, who will then contact you so you can provide the check. Get it done well before an institution may have an end-of-year recognition event. SEJ will mail the institution a congratulatory letter from the SEJ president to give to the student.
Q: What more can I do?
A: Bring in a new donor to support the program in a big way! 
Questions? Contact David Poulson, the academic representative on the SEJ board, at
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