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West Jordan Journal

Winning essay brings animal enthusiasts together

Jun 06, 2024 09:56AM ● By Jet Burnham

Thirteen-year-old Lily Peterson meets Dr. Jane Goodall, a privilege earned by winning NHMU’s ‘Inspired by Jane’ essay contest. (Photo courtesy Adrienne Peterson)

Thirteen-year-old Murray resident Lily Peterson presented 90-year-old anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall with a book of pictures of the Onaqui wild mustang herd in Utah’s West Desert along with a birthday card when they met this spring.

The honor of meeting Goodall was the top prize for the Natural History Museum of Utah’s “Inspired by Jane” essay contest which Lily won with her essay detailing her ideas for saving the wild mustangs from unnecessary slaughter. Lily won an all-expense paid trip to Seattle to meet Goodall and attend her lecture, as well as a $1,000 my529 Educational Savings Plan certificate and a basket of Jane Goodall inspired keepsakes.

“We mainly talked about her childhood, because she was involved with horses when she was a child,” Lily said. “We also talked about how we both kind of knew what we wanted to do from a young age. We are actually weirdly similar in a lot of ways.”

Lily said having this connection with such a legendary ambassador of animal conservation further inspires her commitment to helping animals. She plans to become an equine veterinarian to help implement humane solutions to replace the brutal population control methods currently used on the Onaqui herds.

She has visited the herd—from a respectful distance—once or twice a year since she was 7 years old.

“We went out to see them for my birthday one year, and they were really beautiful,” Lily said. “And then I started riding some, and so, as I had more of a connection with them, I looked more into them and found out all about what's happening, and that made me want to do something about it.”

Lily loves animals, especially horses—her entire sixth grade homeschool curriculum was based on horses. She rides horses and competes in dressage, which she describes as “ballet on a horse” and also plays competitive soccer.

Lily entered another writing contest this spring and plans to enter more next school year. At Mountain Heights Academy, an online public charter school where she recently completed seventh grade, Lily is a member of the Writer’s Quest Club in which she learns about writing contest opportunities and receives writing feedback and support from like-minded peers.

Lily’s winning essay can be read on NHMU’s website. λ