Student Winners of Global Environmental Arts Contest Shine a Spotlight on the Heros Tackling the Climate Crisis
November 20, 2023

Featured artwork: “Climate Influencers” by Gabriella Schakett (Georgia, USA)

(Boston, MA) – Today, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs (Bow Seat) announced the winners of the 2023 Ocean Awareness Contest, an international arts competition that engages youth in creatively raising awareness of environmental issues impacting our blue planet. The 2023 Contest theme, “Climate Heroes in Action,” challenged participants to research those who are working to solve climate change issues, and to create a piece of art, writing, or media that highlights their efforts, organizations, and/or positive impacts.

More than 4,000 students from over 80 countries submitted entries about scientists, activists, artists, educators, entrepreneurs, and other heroes in the climate movement, many of whose remarkable endeavors have remained under the radar – until now. Through their informative and imaginative paintings, poems, songs, films, podcasts, and stories, Contest participants directed needed attention on the positive stories of the climate crisis.

Bow Seat recognized more than 330 middle and high school students from around the world with nearly $80,000 USD in scholarships for their artistic achievement in the visual and performing arts, creative writing, film, and multimedia.

The Gold Award winners of the Senior Division (ages 15-18) are:

  • Visual Art – Yerang Park (Seoul, Republic of Korea)
  • Creative Writing – Jennie Koh (Yongin-si, Republic of Korea)
  • Film – Cynthia Zhang (Great Neck, New York)
  • Interactive & Multimedia – Arielle Kouyoumdjian (Fairfax, Virginia)
  • Performing Arts – Reihinna Harris (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • Poetry – Maithreyi Bharathi (Saratoga, California)
  • Spoken Word – Naomi Ling (Columbia, Maryland)

The Gold Award winners of the Junior Division (ages 11-14) are:

  • Visual Art – Sacred Heart School’s 8th Grade Studio Art Class (Atherton, California)
  • Creative Writing – Jasmine Arisandy (Ashburn, Virginia)
  • Film – Alissa Yankelevich (Walnut Creek, California)
  • Interactive & Multimedia – Estella Gu (Carlisle, Massachusetts)
  • Performing Arts – AnnaBelle Deaner (Melville, New York)
  • Poetry – Ela Kini (New York, New York)
  • Spoken Word – Khwahish Punjabi (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

Bow Seat also presented ten $750 We All Rise Prize awards in both the Junior and Senior Divisions—a total of 20 awards and $15,000 USD—to Black, Indigenous, and Latine students in the U.S. whose entries demonstrated notable artistic achievement in their chosen categories. The We All Rise Prize is part of Bow Seat’s long-term effort to increase the diversity of our program participants, and includes educational programming that centers the voices of artists of color, and a representative advisory committee.

View, read, and watch all the 2023 Ocean Awareness Contest winners.

“We know we live in uncertain times, when teens often feel overwhelmed and discouraged, so we selected our Climate Heroes theme to show youth that the world is full of caring, dedicated people who are committed to finding climate solutions,” said Linda Cabot, founder and president of Bow Seat. “We hoped that Contest participants would feel inspired by learning about climate heroes, and that they would experience a regenerative power in joining a community where young people are leading a powerful, artistic movement for our blue planet.”

“Participating in the 2023 Contest exposed me to some of the most innovative and successful environmental heroes of our generation,” said one student. “This played a great deal in changing my mentality and enabling me to realize that anybody can make a difference in halting climate change. After all, every individual I was exposed to did not achieve great success with millions of dollars in funding or genius intellect, but passion, a dream, and the determination to achieve it at all costs.”

As part of our programming, Bow Seat expands the reach of student work by featuring their pieces in our online Gallery, and through exhibitions, film screenings, presentations, publications, and social media. This provides opportunities to showcase the talents of individual student artists, while leveraging the power of youths’ collective voices to raise awareness of environmental issues among broader communities.

The 2024 Ocean Awareness Contest, “Tell Your Climate Story,” is open now through June 10, 2024, to students ages 11-18 worldwide.

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About Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs: Bow Seat is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit whose mission is to educate and engage youth in environmental conservation and advocacy through the arts. Bow Seat’s annual Ocean Awareness Contest, now in its 13th year, is the world’s largest youth environmental program for the creative arts. It has engaged more than 32,000 middle and high schoolers from all 50 U.S. states and more than 140 countries, and has awarded over $582,000 USD in scholarships to help advance teens’ creative talents and passion for the environment. Visit for more information about Bow Seat’s programs, educational resources, and collection of student artwork and creative media.

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Student Winners of Global Environmental Arts Contest Shine a Spotlight on the Heros Tackling the Climate Crisis

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