Farewell and Reflections from Eric Carstens, Bow Seat’s Contest Program Director
October 20, 2023

Hello Bow Seat Community – this is Eric, Bow Seat’s Contest Program Director. October 20th marks my last day as a member of the Bow Seat team. I am excited for the next stage of my career but sad to step away from the amazing Bow Seat community. With that, I’d like to take some time to reflect on the last two-and-a-half years.

Growing up, two things were undeniably true about me: I loved the ocean and I loved to draw. My love for the ocean never wavered, but somehow, over the years, I lost touch with art. I cannot pinpoint the exact reason why, though I suspect it has something to do with the notion that art and science exist on opposite ends of the spectrum. As I gravitated towards one, I subconsciously believed I had to let the other go.

Fast forward to now – I wish things had been different. I am thrilled to see that STEM has evolved to STEAM. I am honored to have been a part of Bow Seat’s legacy as the world’s largest environmental youth program for the creative arts. I have loved working with thousands of students who have shown me that art is one of the most powerful tools for environmental advocacy.

Eric, wearing a mask, standing behind a table with student art.

Sharing student art that the Girl Scouts Global Leadership Conference.

I have worn many different hats at Bow Seat – as an educator, curator, judge, graphic designer, and editor, to name a few. I am thankful for the Bow Seat team, both past and present, for laying the foundation and helping me grow into these different roles. And for the future team members who will bring fresh perspectives to inspire countless more teens to demand environmental health and justice.

I come away from this experience immensely grateful. I am grateful to have collaborated with three years of inspiring and accomplished Future Blue Youth Councils. I am grateful for the jaws that drop when people find out that the art that they’re looking at was created by teenagers. For the opportunity to learn from hundreds of environmental educators over prickly pear lemonades in the Sonoran Desert. For the timid students who are still willing to offer up an observation during a Visual Thinking Strategies session. But most of all, I am grateful for the students who share their voices, thoughts, and journeys with us through their creativity.

In Saguaro National Park during the 2022 NAAEE Conference

I consider myself an optimistic person – yes, even when thinking about the future of our climate. Two-and-a-half years of hearing student voices, experiences, and motivations have only validated that optimism. Even as the impacts of climate change continue to manifest, I am heartened to hear from all of the youth who are finding their environmental voices. Keep up the fight – you are contributing to a wave of voices that can and will turn things around.

Thank you for helping me rediscover my love of art and for providing me with so much hope. I look forward to continuing to learn from and be inspired by you.

– Eric

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Farewell and Reflections from Eric Carstens, Bow Seat’s Contest Program Director

1 Comment
Liz Cunningham 1 November, 2023
Eric, it was so great to work with you! Thank you for these wonderful farewell reflections. I look forward to staying in touch and wish you the best going forward! ~ Liz

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