“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.