If soydiesel is poised to become a big part of the solution to America's overreaching problem with diesel fuel, then who better to illuminate the alternative fuel's multi-layered benefits than that sector of the nation readying to reap its advantages to both the economy and the environment — today's youth.

Recently, five high school seniors' responses to an essay competition with the topic, “Why America Should Encourage the Use of Soydiesel,” were selected the best out of nearly 200 submissions. Their winning selections also resulted in an accompanying $1,200 college scholarship thanks to Delta King Seed Company, sponsors of the contest.

While the writers all pointed to various government studies revealing soydiesels' advantages, one theme emerges in every essay: America's use of soydiesel is overdue.

Holly Hopper, from Obion County Central High, in Hornbeak, Tenn., observed in her essay that while the spiked fuel prices today have kindled interest in renewable energies, the same interest occurred before for similar reasons: “The concept of using vegetable oil as a fuel dates back to 1900. The gas crisis of the 1970s caused researchers to work on ideas of alternative fuels. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 was the main reason the first commercial biodiesel company formed in 1993. Soydiesel has been used in Europe for more than 20 years, and people in the United States are starting to warm up to the idea, also.”

K'Anne Dorris, senior at Pontotoc High in Pontotoc, Miss., wrote about the economic conditions surrounding what would key a bigger interest in soydiesel reliance: “To date, soydiesel has been more expensive than traditional diesel and availability for use has been limited. However, as more distributors throughout the Mid-South offer soydiesel and as the prices of traditional fuel escalates, soydiesel is more competitive as a fuel source and as a solution to several environmental problems. Every gallon of soydiesel used creates a demand for soybeans. Demand pushes soybean prices higher, which is good for farmers and for the possibility of reduced government subsidies.”

Logan Whittington, from Kilbrone High, in Oak Grove, La., also touched on soydiesel's economics as well as its financial boon to farmers: “Developing biodiesel as a viable alternative to traditional fuels also benefits American farmers. In a 2001 U.S. Department of Agriculture study, scientists discovered that an average annual increase of the equivalent of 200 million gallons of soy-based biodiesel would boost total crop cash receipts by $5.2 billion by 2010. This would result in an average net farm income increase of $300 million per year. The price for a bushel of soybeans would increase by about 17 cents annually during this 10-year period.”

Valley View High School senior James Vaulx Fussell V, from Jonesboro, Ark., wrote that the wisdom in using soydiesel is counsel his sage grandfather, a farmer, would recommend: “First, the use of soy-diesel is renewable, which means we can always make more. Petroleum diesel comes from crude oil, a fossil fuel, and some day it may run out. Since biodiesel is made in the United States of America, it can help our country become energy independent. Also with the use of biodiesel the price of soybeans per bushel would increase to help the American farmer.”

Cooter High School senior Mary Kathryn Campbell, from Cooter, Mo., said that wider adoption of soydiesel would make the environment cleaner and the country less dependant on foreign oil. Considering all of the alternative fuels' advantages and seemingly lack of disadvantages, she wrote “…it would be absurd for Americans not to at least consider this as a possible source of energy.”