High school students in Wyoming have the chance to win $5,300 in the annual American Dream Essay Contest, according to the Boys and Girls Club of Central Wyoming.

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In order to enter, students need to write an essay between 300 to 2,000 words long and be sponsored by teachers, who must submit the student's essay by Feb. 28.

The essay contest is centered on "10 Principles to Live By," from the book Cowboy Ethics by Jim Owens, and has been going on since 1987.

Cece Tolin, American Dream essay contest coordinator, said last year there were 799 essays submitted across 28 different schools in Wyoming.

Tolin said the essays cover a range of topics, from life on a ranch to other personal anecdotes.

"It ranges anywhere from kids raised on a ranch, dealing with herding...different situations all the way to life experiences in their home," Tolin said. "It's a variety, and it can be pretty emotional for sure."

First, second, and third place winners from each school receive monetary prizes, with the first-place local winner being forwarded to the state competition, which will be held on April 10.

The top essay at the state level wins $5,000; second place receives $3,000, and third will win $2,000, and two honorable mentions will each receive $1,000. Last year, more than $39,000 was awarded.

The contest is sponsored by Zimmerman Family Foundation, Templeton Foundation, Hilltop National Bank, Larry, and Margo Bean, Kevin and Julie Murphy, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming.

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