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John Muir Exhibit:
National History Day Projects on John Muir

John Muir makes a great subject for National History Day projects! (See bottom of this page for background about the National History Day program, and information on finding Primary Sources.) History Day is a national competiton for students in fourth through twelfth grade in several different project categories. The grade-span is separated in three divisions: Elementary (grades 4-5), Junior (grades 6-8) and Senior (grades 9-12).

Here are some of the award-winning History Day Projects featuring John Muir we've heard about:


The theme of the 2017 National History Day competiition was "Taking a Stand in History."

Several students won awards this year for their History Day project relating to John Muir.


The 2016 theme for National History Day was "Exploration, Encounter & Exchange in History."

  • At the state-wide National History Day competition in Wisconsin, Julia Hess and Kirah Olson were chosen as alternates for their website, "John Muir and the Exploration of Environmental Conservation." The team also received the Environmental Award for their project.
  • At the state-wide National History Day compettion in Virginia, in the category for Junior Individual Documentary the prize for Second Place as awarded to "John Muir: The Exploration Behind Our National Parks" by John Cole McGee of Blacksburg New School.
  • At the San Diego County, California competition, Mary Tobin won the prize for her Senior Individual Exhibit "Forging a New Path: John Muir's Journey toward Preservation."
  • Qualifying for the state-wide Iowas competition in the category for Junior Division Group Web sites was "John Muir: Standing Up for Nature by Preserving Our National Parks and Founding the Sierra Club" by Maggie Kane, Rachel Bower of St. Benedict School, Decorah, IA.


The theme of the 2015 National History Day competition was "Leadership and Legacy." Several students won awards this year for their History Day projects relating to John Muir:

  • Zane Pert from Orange, California won a state-wide California Elementary Champion award in the Individual 2D category for John Muir: Father of Our National Parks.
  • Madeline Laun from Los Angeles, California, won a state-wide California Runner Up Award in the Junior Individual Website category for The Battle for Conservation: How John Muir's Leadership Helped Conserve Land, and his Enduring Legacy. Her thesis was: John Muir, a passionate naturalist and early environmentalist, played a key leadership role in the formation of the National Park system, which through Theodore Roosevelt's endorsement, created an even greater legacy.
  • Cameron Bourne won a state-wide Massachusetts Honorable Mention for Junior Dividsion Historical Paper "John Muir: Nature's Legend."
  • Kate Finn from Los Angeles was a Winner in the Senior Individual Exhibit category in Los Angeles County, Caliofrnia for "John Muir and the Legacy of the Sierra Club."
  • Izzzy Roth and Lauren Cody were winners in the Junior Division, WEbsite category for the 2015 New York State History Day Competition the thier Website John Muir and the National Park System .
  • Isbaelle Negrete created a video documentary, "John Muir: An Inspiration for Yosemite's Conservation," posted on Written, directed and filmed by Isabella Negrete. Video includes an interview of Sierra Club National Associate Conservation Director Bruce Hamilton.
  • Tristan Atkinson, Ryan Dickson, Sutter Laird and Elek Sasawy of Technology High School, Rohnert Park, Calif, created a video documentary John Muir & Yosemite: The Past, Present, and Future of Preservation, which included interviews of Sierra Club Conservation Director Bruce Hamilton.
  • Benjamin Lessin prepared a video documentary John Muir and the National Parks, posted on
  • Miss. Macaron posted a video documentary for National History Day, John Muir: The Man Behind the National Parks on YouTube.
  • Adriana Ballinger published a website John Muir: Leadership and Legacy in Establishing and Preserving National Parks. Adriana, from South Carolina, won the 2015 National 3rd Place award in the category of Junior Individual Website.



Sophia Aguilar created a website, "John Muir: Father of the National Parks." Her thesis was: John Muir's writings helped inspire people in the late 19th century to visit and preserve the most beautiful places in America. His passion for nature was evident in his writings, and helped the American public realize the beauty of the outdoors. Many people today know of John Muir and his contribution to the preservation of wild places that helped lead to the establishment of the national park system.


The 2014 National History Day theme was "Rights and Responsiblities" A team of students created a 10-minute documentary titled Environmentalism and John Muir on YouTube on the theme of our rights to enjoy nature and our responsibilities to protect. . Another student created a 4 minute Amateur Documentary on John Muir on YouTube.


Sam Winderman created a website titled "John Muir: Father of the American Conservation Movement."


Nicole Moss and partner Amanda Mary created a YouTube video titled John Muir: The Diplomatic Founder of the National Park Service and the Sierra Club. The History Day Theme for 2011 was " Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, and Consequences."


The 2010 History Day theme was "Innovations in History." Urbana Maryland Middle Shool students Arun Kulkharni, Michael Mitchell, and Amil Sahai, all eighth-graders, presented a project on this theme called "A Walk in the Woods with John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt: The Formation of the National Parks System."


A group documentary for History Day on John Muir won first in their regional competition, and posted a 10 minute documentary on John Muir on YouTube.

National History Day of Wisconsin posted a series of "Sample Documentaries" including one titled "John Muir: The Father of Our National parks and How He Inspired So Many"


Sarah Bush of Beaumont Middle School in Lexington, Kentucky won 2nd place in the Junior Division for the State of Kentucky for her paper on "John Muir: Wilderness Prophet of California"


In 2007, Brady Sebo won a "Wisconsin History Award" for his Junior exhibit, " A Success of Nature: The John Muir Story."


Several students did John Muir as History Day projects this year. Emily Pavela (Corona-Norco Unified School District) won first place in the "Junior individual documentary" categroy for Riverside County on March 25, 2006. She will be going to the California state competition to be held May 11-14 in Sacramento. Charles Dewey (Corona-Norco) won third place in the "Junior individual web site" category for his site on John Muir. A total of 280 students participated in History Day in Riverside County. Eve Morris was one of the winners in Fresno County History Day. She was in the Junior Division individual documentary category and will be headed on to the California State History Day Competition as well!

In Kansas, District 3, February 26, 2006 History Day Competition results included:
Honorable Mention: John Muir: Nature's Conservationist by Kristen Pfannenstiel, Kelsey Smalley; Seaman High; Susan Sittenauer, teacher.

Reide, Joe and Mitch with History Day display on John Muir: The Beginning of the American Environmental MovementThese Middle School boys in Eagan, Minnesota, made this John Muir display entitled: "John Muir: A Walk in the Woods: The Beginning of the American Environmental Movement".



John Lee of Dubois Midle School in Dubois, Wyoming won 2nd place in the Junior Individual Exhibit category for his project, "John Muir: His Letters, His Life, His Legacy."



Brian Boyle of St. Michael Elementary School, Worthington, Ohio, competed in the Junior Historical Paper category with his paper “John Muir and Yosemite.” He received an Honorable Mention at the Ohio State History Day competition.



Alex with History Day project from Palo Verde School, Tulare CaliforniaAlexandria Tyson from Palo Verde Elementary School in Tulare, California submitted this display. The theme for the 2003 History Day was "Rights and Responsibilities in History," and her project was on "John Muir and the Duty to Protect the Environment." Alexandria won First Place in the Individual Exhibits - Junior Division category for Tulare County and a "Kudos for Kids Award" at the California History Day competition of the 2003 National History Day program.

Other History Day award winners in California with a John Muir project were Oanh Nguyen for a "Geography Award" on "John Muir: Protecting the Wilderness for All Generations" at the California State Competition.

Also in 2003, Lauren Koenig from The Brandeis School, New York, created a Power Point movie presentation on "John Muir and Environmental Responsibility" which became a finalist at the National level.

In the "Performance" category, Priyanka Adapa, 13, of Clovis, California, put on a performance at the national level on "Who Will Speak for the Trees" about the responsibility of the government and the people to conserve land. Her months of research culminated in a 10 minute presentation in which Priyanka portrayed four different figures in the fight to make Yosemite a national park, including Muir and a chief of the Awanheechee Indians, who lived there before it became a park.

Scarborough High School Student Sheena Ernst participated at the state leval National History Day Competition in Augusta, Maine, in 2003 with her project, "John Muir and the Environment."

Second Place at the Colorado State Level for the Senior Group Exhibit Category was Scott Frank and Kevin Boylan, George Washington High School in Denver, Colorado with their project on "John Muir, Nature's Guardian;" and Fourth Place in the Colorado state level in the Individual Documentar category was Natalia Spampinato, also of George Washington High School, in Denver, Colarado with her project on "John Muir and the Rights to and Responsibilities of Saving the Environment."

In Minnesota, the University of Minnesota CLA Scholarship prize for theƊ Senior Division went to Katy Shimizu of Edina High School for her project, "If A Tree Falls: Yosemite, John Muir and Conservationism."

Another 2003 History Day Project was a website from a student at Cayucos Elementary School, California.

From Creekside School in Monterey County, Karly Summers, Emily Reclusado, Brenna Beecher, Myles Coleman, Jonathan Torres, Matthew Belnas and Nick Duenas won at the Monterey County level with their County Finalist Posters (4th and 5th Grades) on "John Muir and the Duty to Save the Environment."



In 2001, the History Day theme was "Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas." That year, student Vinson Lee won the California History Day Geography Award for his project on "John Muir: A Visionary Of Environmental Conservation."



In 2000, in the Wyoming State competition, in the Senior Individual Documentary catgegory, Eileen Skidmore of the UW Lab School won Second Place for her project, on "John Muir: His Life and Legacy."



Lauren Park from Alta Sierra Intermediate School, Clovis, California, with her documentary project on "Seeing the Forest For the Trees: John Muir Takes a Stand for the Wilderness" competed in the Junior Individual Documentary category. She was First Place in Fresno County History Day, First Place in California State History Day, and Third Place at National History Day.

Amanda and Amanda were from Raney Intermediate School in Corona, California. The theme for the 1996 History Day was "Taking a Stand: Individuals, Groups, Movements." Amanda and Amanda's project title was "Speaking Out for Nature: John Muir's Legacy." Amanda and Amanda won second place in their school district, and First in Riverside County, and went to the state competition. They also attended the 1996 John Muir Conference at University of the Pacific in Stockton CA.

Jeff and Nate are from Santa Lucia Middle School, Cambria, California. Jeff and Nate won first place in their school district, and in San Luis Obispo County, and also competed in the state finals in 1996.

More About History Day

History Day is an exciting, history-based learning experience for students from 4-12 th grades. Through participation in History Day, students not only learn about issues, ideas, people and events in history, but they apply what they have learned through creative and original productions. Beyond simply memorizing names and dates and reporting on historical events, History Day students develop invaluable research and analytical skills as they process the information gathered through intensive research and draw their own conclusions about their topic's significance in history.

The National History Day program is a year-long education program that culminates in a national contest every June. The History Day program is structured in a competitive format, but winning is not what is most important about History Day. Rather, the most important rewards gained from participating in this program are the skills and new knowledge that you will acquire, which will help you in all your academic endeavors. Research, writing, and communication skills will be valuable assets no matter what direction your life takes, especially if you plan to go to college. By participating in History Day, you will gain self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment, and you will have fun in the process.

Primary Sources: Students need to find primary sources as well as secondary resources in researching History Day Projects. Here are some sources for finding such sources that have materials related to John Muir:

Would you like to be listed on this page? Send your name, project title with any photos or descriptions about your John Muir History Day project, and parent permission to post on this website to:

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