OCTA Awards

Awards, Credits, Prizes & Programs

Recognition for exceptional contributions!

OCTA recognizes individuals and groups that protect and share the legacy of emigrant trails.

OCTA is especially proud to support and recognize educators and students through awards, an honorarium, and annual prizes.

Announcing the Student Winners for Western Calendar Contest

several young girls sit at table with papers and talk to a man
New student winner photos for 2023 coming soon!

Congratulations to the fourteen students, along with their teachers who encouraged their work, whose work appear in the 2023 calendar: “Mountain Men, Indians, and Emigrants – Trade and Trade Goods.” They are: 

Zac Hawkins, Mrs. Heryford & Leisha Black, Canyon Rim Academy, 5th grade, Salt Lake City, UT; Evelyn Rotondi, Mrs. Hazen & Leisha Black, Canyon Rim Academy, 5th grade, Salt Lake City, UT;  Mae Alder, Mrs. Heryford & Leisha Black,  Canyon Rim Academy, 5th grade, Salt Lake City, UT;  Clara Evans, Mrs. Hazen & Leisha Black, Canyon Rim Academy, 5th grade, Salt Lake City, UT;  Henry Griffin, Mrs. Hazen & Leisha Black, Canyon Rim Academy, 5th grade, Salt Lake City, UT;  Jack Palmer, Mrs. Hazen & Leisha Black, Canyon Rim Academy, 5th grade, Salt Lake City, UT;  Kate Massoth,  Ms.Kolarik, John Paul II, 4th grade, Overland Park, KS;  Henry Churchill, Ms. Somerhalder , John Paul II, 2nd grade, Overland Park, KS;  George Macan ,   Ms. Flaspohler, John Paul II, 1st grade, Overland Park, KS ; Louise Morgan   Ms. Churchill, John Paul II, 5th grade,  Overland Park, KS ; Nian San,  Ms. Churchill, John Paul II, 3rd grade, Overland Park, KS;  Ramona Slowik, Ms. Janner,  John Paul II, 3rd grade, Overland Park, KS; Mary Holland, Ms. Janner, John Paul II, 3rd grade, Overland Park, KS; and Ruth Lusk, Ms. Janner,  John Paul II, 3rd grade, Overland Park, KS. 

We would also like to wish the hundreds of other students and their teachers, whose artwork was not selected a big “THANK YOU” for their participation!

Information about the 2024 student calendar contest and its theme, “Emigrant and Indian – Tools, Utensils & Equipment,” is available for download in the last section of this page.   

Outstanding Educator Award

Woman holds an award plaque and stands next to another woman and man

Outstanding Educator Award

The outstanding Educator Award seeks to honor outstanding educators and institutions for their work in providing unique programs that engage and spark their students’ interests in westward emigration and expansion that give students a both a factual and realistic understanding of it. The award includes a $250.00 honorarium. Applications for the award are open to any individual, team of educators, or institution that contributes significantly to students’ education about the 19th century westward overland migration in the United States. The deadline for submissions is April 30.


Activity Book Raffle

book cover with text Reading, Writing and Riding Along the Oregon-California Trails

Activity Book Raffle

Each winter we sponsor a raffle for a class set of one of OCTA’s educational activity books that focus on the Oregon-California trails, Mormon Trail, Pony Express Trail, or Lewis and Clark Trail. The deadline for raffle postcard entries are February 1.

Western Calendar

several Shoshone Indian people stand near two tipis

Each year the Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA) produces a special western calendar based on a particular theme. The calendar will be created using the original artwork of elementary students. Prizes will be awarded to each child whose artwork is selected. Each selected student receives a $50.00 prize. The theme for the 2024 calendar is “Emigrant and Indian- Tools, Utensils, and Equipment.”  The deadline to enter is April 1, 2023.


Mountain Men, Indians & Emigrant Trade & Trade Goods 2023 OCTA Calendar showing wagon and snowcapped mountains with green grass below.

OCTA Awards

OCTA awards are given each year to people who have made exceptional contributions toward the furtherance of OCTA’s mission and objectives. Awards recognizing those contributions are presented at the annual convention. As a general rule, when giving out awards, preference is given to persons residing in the general area where the national convention is being held. The objective of this rule is to maximize publicity and interest at the local level and to increase participation in the awards program.

Types of Awards

Merrill Mattes Award  This award is presented to the author(s) of the article in the Overland Journal  that best reflects excellence in writing and research and the goals of OCTA. It is open to both OCTA members and non-members.

Gregory Franzwa Meritorious Achievement Award The highest award OCTA can give to recognize long-term and significant contributions to OCTA. Only members can qualify for Meritorious Achievement.

Dave Welch Preservation Award For special efforts toward Preservation.

Distinguished Volunteer Award Bestowed on OCTA members who contribute significantly to achieving OCTA goals and projects. Only OCTA members can qualify for Distinguished Volunteer.

Distinguished Service Award Granted to organizations, businesses, government agencies, individuals, or others who contribute or participate in furthering OCTA’s programs directly or provide substantial support in a non-affiliated way to trail preservation and education.

Friend of the Trail Award Presented to groups, individuals, or organizations that have direct ties to lands over which historic trails pass. Neither property ownership nor current residence on trail property is required, but emphasis is on preservation of trail remnants, education of the public about their historic resources, and allowing responsible public access to the historic resources.

National Certificates of Appreciation Presented to individuals and organizations that have made a particular effort in achieving a short-term OCTA goal. These certificates are for efforts of national scope; more regional or local efforts should be recognized by appropriate chapters.

Young OCTAN Award Presented to children and youth between the ages of six and twenty-one who have demonstrated particular interest in OCTA and the history and/or preservation of historic emigrant trails. The nominee will have demonstrated this interest by an activity in the field or via a school or class project in such a manner that is considered outstanding and far above the typical field or school project. The project may also be an outstanding personal endeavor on the nominee’s own initiative. An entire class or group of school-aged children may be nominated as one aggregated nominee. Qualifying standards would include participation in OCTA meetings, outings, and/or work projects over an extended period. OCTA membership is not a requirement. In addition, other awards may be appropriate, such as the Past Presidential Award, the Special Presidential Award, Certificates of Appreciation for outgoing officers and directors, and Resolutions of Thanks for convention program chairs and local arrangement chairs.

Awards Presented by Local Chapters Local chapters of OCTA may present Certificates of Appreciation to deserving individuals or institutions who have shown outstanding contributions in preservation, research or education on the local level. Although these certificates are primarily intended for those outside of OCTA, it is also open to OCTA volunteers.

Award Forms Award forms can be filled in and submitted electronically.