Rachel Carson Contest 2013

By Kathy Sykes


“The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.” —Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

Seven years ago, the Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder contest began with the hope that it would inspire all generations—young, old, and middle aged—to join creative forces and in their own words describe a corner of the natural world that embodies a sense of wonder.

This creative expression contest has grown in its reach and breadth by popular demand. Entries have come from across the globe and in an array of shapes and media.

A few years ago, it seemed natural to add movement and dance to the contest. So, this year we invite songwriters to join the chorus and capture the sounds of wonder with their melodies of meadows, streams, and breezes.

When I was in second grade, my father took me and my brother out of school for a half day to watch The Sound of Music. I am sure he had a number of lessons in mind he wanted us to learn by taking us to the movie theater. A history lesson on World War II was the most immediate.  But I believe he also wanted to foster an appreciation for the arts and the environment.

Hiking in the Alps.

The cinematography was amazing. The surrounding photography of the Alps from the movie left an indelible memory for me. Many years later I climbed the Austrian Alps with an exchange student from a small town in Austria and his father—something I will never forget. And yes, we sang hiking songs, too.

My parents succeeded in giving my brother, sister and me a well-rounded education engendering a sense of wonder for nature’s beauty as well as for the arts.

I invite you to share that same sense of wonder and enter the Rachel Carson Contest. Please see more information about the contest at:


As Rachel Carson wrote in her book The Sense of Wonder:

You can listen to the wind, whether it blows with majestic
voice through a forest or sings a many-voiced chorus…

The deadline for entries is June 10, 2013.

About the Author: Kathy Sykes has been working for the EPA since 1998 where she focuses on older adults and the built environment and healthy communities.  In 2012, she joined the Office of Research and Development and serves as Senior Advisor for Aging and Sustainability.

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