The Humanist Society of Santa Barbara, with the Alliance for Science, is co-sponsoring a national essay contest for students up to high school level.

Previous years’ topics in the annual event were “Climate and Evolution” and “Agriculture and Evolution.” This year’s topic, “In Darwin’s Footsteps,” asks students to write up to 1,000 words about a scientist, group of scientists or a scientific organization that best exemplifies the character and quality of work that sustained Charles Darwin throughout his career.

The best judged essays will receive cash prizes from a total pool of $750. Teachers of winning students also will be awarded cash prizes and educational materials. HSSB will award additional cash and educational materials to all winning students and their teachers who are residents of Santa Barbara County.

HSSB is participating in this contest to promote the teaching of science and rational thinking in the community, one of its main missions. The club’s sponsorship of the essay contest is one of the many activities it will engage in during the next year related to Darwin. In February 2009, a weeklong series of activities cosponsored with the Museum of Natural History will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birthday.

Click here for complete details of the essay contest. The added prizes offered by HSSB are described on its Web site. Click here. The site also offers ideas and suggested resources to assist essay authors in their research.

For more information on the contest, contact Ray Stone at or 805.682.2123.

HSSB, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization, holds 10 monthly meetings per year where lectures, films and discussions are held on topics of interest to Humanists. Humanism is a philosophy that asserts, among other things, the essential dignity and worth of man and contends that one can live an ethical and moral life without reliance on supernatural forces or promise of rewards.

For more information about the group, call 805.967.3045, e-mail or write to P.O. Box 30232, Santa Barbara, CA 93130.

Ray Stone represents the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara.