Rachel Carson Contest

Wade In and Cast Your Vote for the 2012 Winners of the Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest

By Kathy Sykes

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of year, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” Rachel Carson from “The Sea Around Us”

For the past six years, I have had the privilege of overseeing the Rachel Carson Sense of  Wonder contest. The purpose is to create artistic expressions through photography, poetry, essays and dance that capture the sense and appreciation of the environment. This year’s contest focused on water in recognition of the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Teams of young persons and older have expressed appreciation for water through extraordinary and precious expressions of art. From raindrops on a blade of grass, to a gentle rain in a forest, to waves in the ocean as far as the eye can see, we see, taste and feel water.

I have been heartened to receive messages from grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children, teachers and students, and nature lovers of all ages, who appreciate the teaching of Rachel Carson.

Andre Gide, a French Nobel laureate for literature wrote, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Many of our teams did just that, discovering and exploring water and nature with a new sense of wonder. And just as the pleasing as Handel’s water music was for King George, I too have been thrilled by the notes from participants:

  • “thanks for giving this opportunity to kids to rethink about environment and nature”
  • “we had a great time completing this contest.”
  • “such a wonderful project!!!”
  • “when will EPA announce the 2013 contest and what will the theme be?”

Our judges were also impressed by the imaginative entries from teams that worked across generations to discover and enjoy the beauty of water. It was a quite a challenge for them to select finalists from so many lovely works. Now it is your chance to help us select the 2012 winners of the Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest here.

About the Author: Kathy Sykes is a Senior Advisor for Aging and Sustainability in the Office or Research and Development at the U.S. EPA.  She grew up in Madison, WI and has been working at the U.S. EPA since 1998. She believes the arts can serve as an environmental educational tool and foster appreciation and protection for the natural world.

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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Tell us why Water Is Worth It

By Travis Loop

As someone responsible for communications on water issues at EPA, I’m always working to explain how the agency’s actions matter to the American people. This year provides a unique opportunity to spark a national conversation about something that is vital to every single person – clean water.

2012 is the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource. This year we will certainly talk about the tremendous progress in reducing pollution since 1972, the many milestones along the way, the ways that the job is far from over and the tough challenges we face today and in the future.

But we don’t want to have a one-way conversation. We want to hear from you. Tell us why Water Is Worth It.

We’ve set up a variety of ways that people can participate in the conversation about clean water. Our webpage will be the central location for information, activities, news and networking.

I imagine many of you are active in social media so I encourage you to follow our accounts. You can find us on Facebook . You can follow us on Twitter @EPAwater. We want to have a nationwide digital dialogue so use the hashtag #cleanwater.

Keep watching the Greenversations blog for entries by EPA officials and staff on water issues. Provide your thoughts in the comments section and share the blog entry with others.

Throughout 2012, EPA’s Watershed Academy will be offering free webinars on aspects of the Clean Water Act, including an introduction, State Revolving Funds, the National Estuary Program and more. If you can’t join these webinars live, they are all archived for future access.

To tell the visual story of water, we’ve gathered photos of water submitted in 1972 and 2012. We encourage you to add to this gallery. It would be especially interesting to see new photos taken in the same location as 1972 to see how the water and surroundings have changed.

We also invite you to participate in the Rachel Carson contest. There are four categories: photography, essay, poetry and dance. Submissions are encouraged to focus on the properties of water – how it tastes, what it sounds like, how it feels – and what water means you.

We’re looking forward to hearing you tell us why Water Is Worth It.

About the author: Travis Loop is the communications director for the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.