Bow Seat Launches the 2021 Ocean Awareness Contest, a Global Call for Teens to Use the Creative Arts to Advocate for Our Blue Planet
September 18, 2020

Tenth Annual Competition Encourages Students to Learn About and Explore Humanity’s Interconnection Through Water

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs (Bow Seat) has launched its tenth annual Ocean Awareness Contest, an international arts competition that invites youth to raise awareness of issues impacting our blue planet. The 2021 Contest, “Water Rising,” asks students to create artwork that highlights their connection to water and that creatively communicates the need to conserve this vital resource.

The Ocean Awareness Contest is open now through June 14, 2021, to teens ages 11-18 worldwide. Submissions are accepted in visual art, poetry and spoken word, creative writing, film, music, dance, and interactive or multimedia. Winners will be selected from each category and receive awards of up to $1,500 each.

“Water is Earth’s most important substance—all life needs water,” said Linda Cabot, founder and president of Bow Seat. “We are excited to commemorate the Contest’s tenth anniversary by focusing on a theme that all students can connect to, no matter where in the world they live. ‘Water Rising’ acknowledges the importance of the ocean as a life-sustaining force, and expands our traditional focus on marine environments to include water in its many forms. Our goal is to inspire youth to share their personal stories about water—stories that need to be told in order to sustain and protect this precious resource for current and future generations of life on Earth.

“Our 2021 Contest also encourages students to explore the intersectionality of issues exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement,” continued Cabot. “Indigenous communities, people of color, and the poor are disproportionately threatened by industries and policies that poison air, water, and living bodies, as well as by the mounting impacts of the climate crisis. ‘Water Rising’ invites students to consider environmental equity as a human right, and how water can be a lens by which to understand structural racism and fight for justice.”

Since 2011, more than 18,000 students from over 100 countries and all 50 U.S. states have participated in the Ocean Awareness Contest. Bow Seat has awarded nearly $400,000 in scholarships to help advance teens’ creative talents and passion for the environment, as well as to educators who use the Contest as a tool to teach students about conservation issues, apply classroom learning to real-world problems, and build students’ research and communication skills.

To support students’ participation in the Contest, Bow Seat provides a unique, curated online Resource Studio that offers an interdisciplinary educational experience—using inspirational artwork, videos, journalistic media, primary literature, interactive quizzes, and more—to help students learn about water’s connection to climate change, health, justice, and culture. In addition, the Resource Studio provides educators with innovative lesson plans, classroom activities, and suggested reading to help them incorporate the Contest into their curricula and meet important educational standards across disciplines.

“Teachers are beginning the new school year in an extremely challenging environment,” said Cabot. “The Contest’s online platform is highly compatible with remote learning and provides educators with an enrichment program that helps them teach their students about environmental issues and creative communication.”

For more information about the 2021 Ocean Awareness Contest, go to


About Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs: Bow Seat is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that engages youth in ocean conservation and advocacy through the arts. Visit for more information about Bow Seat’s programs, educational resources, and global collection of student artwork.

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Bow Seat Launches the 2021 Ocean Awareness Contest, a Global Call for Teens to Use the Creative Arts to Advocate for Our Blue Planet

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