Essay Contest Rules - $1,000 Odd Fellows Annual Scholarship


Blochman Union Elementary
Lompoc Unified

Orcutt Union Elementary

Santa Maria Joint Union High
Santa Ynez Valley Union High
SBE – Olive Grove Charter


Essay Contest Rules 3

The first Odd Fellows lodge in California was founded in 1849 exactly one year before statehood as the Golden Age of Fraternalism was about to dawn.

Historians note that 50 years after California became a state, that 20% of all American adults were members of one or more fraternal organizations. Some sources claim it was as high as 40%! Can you imagine one to two out of every five adults were in a fraternity whose primary benefit was mutual aid and held a mandate to help others?

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was the largest of these fraternal organizations and in large part because of the mutual-aid benefits as there was no “safety net” for those who fell on hard times.

The Odd Fellows were progressive for their time supporting the start of a sister organization for women in 1851 called Rebekahs; this was a time when women were discouraged in general from activities common among men and 70 years before women were allowed the right to vote.

With so many Californians joining Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, the organization was woven into the fabric of our society in so many ways (which can still be seen if you know where to look). Odd Fellows cemeteries and orphan homes still exist today although many have changed hands or closed.

Our mission has given us the opportunity to help so many people that our positive impact on America is difficult to imagine. In 1868, total aid in one year given through our mission to “visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan” was $951,556.21; today that amount is equal to over 2 trillion dollars.

Our mission has changed over the years. In 1935, the Social Security Act was signed into law by an Odd Fellow (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) to help the blind, the handicapped, the elderly and others in need. This and other factors shifted our focus to other ways to fulfill our mission such as investing in medical research to help people regain their eyesight. Few people know our history and the positive impact we have had yet we continue to help.

2018 Essay Contest Official Rules

Essay Contest Prize

One finalist will receive a scholarship award of $1,000.
The runner-up finalist will receive a scholarship award of $200.
The third, fourth and fifth finalist will receive a $100 scholarship.
The Essay Contest Prizes are sponsored by the Lompoc Odd Fellows.


Contest is officially launched with publication on our website.
Letters announcing the contest are sent to respective high school principals and school district offices and press release for general media.
Deadline for entries (entrants will have roughly seven weeks to enter).
Five finalists will be selected by lodge committee.
Finalists will be notified by email and/or phone and on our website.
Final judging and winners announced at our lodge.

The winner and their school will be notified by email and phone and letter.


  • High school seniors of the qualifying school districts are asked to write and submit an essay based on the theme of the Essay Contest (for that year) in 500 to 1,000 words.
  • Entry form on our website at
  • Students may enter one of TWO ways: (1) Download the entry form, collect required signatures and then mail it in with the printed essay. (2) Download the entry form, collect required signatures, use a camera to take a picture of the signed entry form and upload the picture with a PDF of the essay. Mailed entries postmarked after May 31, 2018, will not be considered.
  • Students may visit our lodge for additional research when accompanied by a parent on nights that our Odd Fellows and Rebekahs lodges are in session. Again, see our website at for more information. Our dress code is business casual.
  • Prize checks will be made out to the school of choice of the finalist.
  • Family members of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs are ineligible to enter this essay contest as the IOOF (both nationally and on the state level) have their own scholarship programs for lodge members and their family.
  • Submissions are final without modifications (changes, corrections, etc.).
  • Students may not enter for someone else or enter more than once.
  • Any social media results will be tallied at the end of the contest on the URLs provided.


  • Essays will be graded on a 100-point system with 1 up to 10 points deducted for each inaccuracy, misspelling, grammar or other issues including structure and writing quality. Double-check your entry!
  • All papers will be curve-graded; the top essay will receive no higher than 100 points total. Only winners and finalists will receive feedback on their essays.
  • A well-written essay with no extra points will score higher than an essay with extra points with mistakes.
  • 2 bonus points will be awarded to entries when a parent(s) or guardian(s) grant permission by signed letter to use the entrant’s picture and essay in print or electronic (web-based) publishing.
  • 2 bonus points may be gained by accompanying documentation from a faculty member that the essay was read aloud in front of a class or larger audience. This documentation must be on school stationery and copied to the head of the school and school district.
  • 2 bonus points may be gained by providing proof that the entrant has (using social media) entered this contest, is helping to promote this contest and is sharing their reason(s) to enter in a way that supports this contest.
  • 3 bonus points may be gained by reading the essay in person at our lodge at one of our meetings before final judging in June 2018. See our website for our meeting dates.
  • Essays will also lose points for lack of originality and for merely rewriting content of previously published material, history, website information and other information. The best information may be found on the IOOF website ( and for California IOOF ( but these should be used primarily for fact-checking. There are numerous books, ebooks and other materials on Odd Fellows that may tell more personal stories and give better insight into Odd Fellows. Our website includes a post about the “Grand Old Man of Lompoc” who was an Odd Fellow. You may find that in your family there is an Odd Fellow. Interview them. Gather ideas. Think outside the box. Tell us what you think rather than what is already known. Your entry will be judged on the quality of your essay rather than reporting.

Permissions Granted

By entering this contest, you agree to all the contest rules and requirements without amendment:

You certify (and with your parent/guardian’s consent to do so) that your essay was written by you and any material you provide (such as your picture) includes permission by your parent/guardian and yourself to publish it (in print or web-based form) in whole or in part at your school, in the news media or our Odd Fellows website or affiliated websites of a higher jurisdiction to our own.

We will not publish any information that is beyond the usual and customary practice to promote winners and finalists and nothing else beyond what you submit or provide when you enter this contest. The only information that we will publish beyond what you submit is your status as the winner or as a finalist during or after the contest has concluded. We may ask you for an interview after the contest.

Privacy and Legal

Your privacy is something we respect completely; no information collected will ever be sold. We will use your contact information only to notify you if you have won unless there are questions that arise from your entry. Entry in this essay contest lawfully assumes that you irrevocably release, indemnify and hold harmless the sponsor and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows national and state organizations for any reason.

If your entry is disputed as a violation of any copyrighted material or creates any legal issues, your entry will be disqualified and grants us freedom from any claims or penalties. If your entry is too similar to another entry, then both will be disqualified.

This contest is subject to all federal, state, and local laws and regulations and taxes and are subject to revision only when necessary to respond to unforeseen circumstances which may alter the outcome.

Void where prohibited. No purchase or membership is necessary to enter or win. Rules are subject to change and entrant may withdraw at any time by phone or email.

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