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Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest 2012

2012 February 7

By Kathy Sykes

The 2012 Rachel Carson contest will focus on water, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. The scientist and author, Rachel Carson, is the inspiration of the EPA’s Rachel Carson intergenerational contest. She wrote that for a child to keep alive an inborn sense of wonder, the companionship of at least one adult is needed to share and rediscover the joy, excitement and mystery of the world.

My friend’s daughter asked her brother what percent of the earth’s water was potable, or drinkable. He correctly guessed 1 percent. But then he said 1% is a lot of water bottles. She then asked me “Where water came from? I referred her to a kid’s site prepared by our Regional office in Kansas City.

Many of my favorite memories as a child were spent near water. It’s hard to decide where I have had the most fun and with whom I should team up and enter this contest.

One memory involves a family trip to Sanibel Island with my brother’s eldest children, Steven and Jessie. Steven was 3 at the time and Jessie was 4. They danced along the shore, playing ring around the rosie as the waves tickled their tiny toes and giggling constantly as they fell into the soft sand. That happy moment was captured by my mother and is my favorite photo. I can still taste the salty air and hear the gentle, lapping waves.

I think you get the idea. Find a partner or two, discover a place, somewhere you want to explore, or recall some place you’ve been. Share a story, a photo, a dance or poem, and enter the Sense of Water contest. It’s good for the heart— and soul. But don’t take my word for it—jump in and make a splash.

About the author: Kathy Sykes is working on sustainability, across the lifespan, in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is also representing EPA on the National Prevention Strategy. She launched the Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest 6 years ago with sponsoring organizations including Generations United, the Rachel Carson Council Inc, the Dance Exchange, and the National Center for Creative Aging.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. Steve Vetzner permalink
    February 7, 2012

    I think this is a wonderful contest that promotes creativity and an appreciation of our environment and the need to protect it for future generations.

  2. Cory Merriman permalink
    February 8, 2012

    One of my favorit memories of water was when I was in the Smoky Mountains. I was hiking with a group of friends. We came across a mountain stream that had some deep sections in it with a few boulders just asking to be jumped off of. We couldn’t resist even though the water was frigid. Once we got in it was exhilarating! Everything got brighter and more happy. A few short minutes before we had all been hot, trudging up and down sides of mountains. The water gave us new life and made us notice just how beautiful our surroundings really were.

  3. Kathy Sykes permalink
    February 8, 2012

    Thank you for your comments. This contest is a great opportunity to bring the generations together to time and appreciate our precious resource water and create something for others to enjoy.

  4. Alexander permalink
    February 8, 2012

    This name “The Sense of Water” is very right, I think. I felt the sense of water once in mountains. I heard the purl of water under the dry small stones, where flows unvisible stream.

  5. paola rizzo permalink
    February 8, 2012

    I grew up by the sea. My first kiss, first time I drank too much wine, first time I cried because my dog had died. Everything happened by the sea. We would begin the day by checking the ocean mood. And this was the last thing we did at the end of the day.
    I moved a lot after. But I have always been happier when I lived in cities by the water. If not the ocean, a river, a lake would be good enough. There is something about it that makes your emotions flow more…fluidly.
    And this is not surprising….we are after all mostly made of water!

  6. Rita permalink
    February 8, 2012

    This contest appeals to me for several reasons: I love Rachel Carson and her writings and I am equally fond of the sea. My most memorable vacations involved visits to islands or the shores of other countries. There is something magical about water and the abundant life that it contains. If we can move beyond looking at water as just part of the landscape and realize what an essential resource it is. Perhaps this contest gives parents and grandparents an opportunity to share the interrelationship of water and life itself. With growing population and increasing pollution, their lives depend on their stewardship of water.

  7. Kathy Sykes permalink
    February 9, 2012

    Well said. The sea and waterbodies must be filled with many of our best memories.

  8. Kathy Sykes permalink
    February 11, 2012


  9. Steven Earl Salmony permalink
    September 27, 2012

    Rachel Carson was correct years ago, I suppose, when noting,
    “We stand now where two roads diverge…… The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road-the one “less traveled by”-offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.” I fear we will not choose to take ‘the other fork of the road’ until it is too late to make a difference that makes a difference for the future.

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