Aaron Baxa wins NYT essay award

Saint Peter High School senior Aaron Baxa received a prestigious honor recently as he was named a first runner-up finisher in the New York Times’ fourth annual STEM Writing Contest for his essay entitled, “The Coyote’s Bad Rap.” Aaron is the son of Jen and Steve Baxa of St. Peter.

In collaboration with Science News, organizers of this contest invited students to find a STEM-related question, concept or issue they were interested in, and, in 500 words or fewer, explain it to a general audience. 

“I entered the contest in early February as part of an assignment for the MSU-English class that I’m taking this semester with Mrs. Dimock,” Baxa said. “I didn’t know I had won anything until she notified me earlier this week about my name appearing on the New York Times website. I was amazed to find out the news and it is such a great honor to be recognized like this by the New York Times.

“Mrs. Dimock is definitely one of the best teachers I’ve had during my time here at Saint Peter High School. She knows so much about the writing process and the ins and outs of activities like this.”

Of the more than 3,000 student essays received from around the world, organizers chose 10 winners, 11 runners-up and 23 honorable mentions. These essays not only helped judges understand an interesting scientific or mathematical phenomenon, but also engaged them and made them see why they should care about it.

“I’ve always enjoyed studying biology and ecology as well as learning about the natural world,” Baxa said. “My original plan was to write about the food web and how human destruction to the ecosystem is affecting it. However, I decided that the subject was perhaps a little too generic and chose to do something a little more niche. 

“People tend to look at coyotes as vermin, but they are actually fascinating animals and very smart. I wanted to bring awareness to all the good they do, like helping to control the populations of small animals like squirrels and rabbits.”

Aaron’s future plans, after graduating from SPHS this spring, “is to attend HZ University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands to study water management. My goal is to hopefully do post-graduate work and someday work in a governmental department to ensure that land and water are used in a sustainable way.”

To read about Aaron’s accomplishment as it appears on the New York Times’ website, along with a list of the other award winners, please click HERE!