What’s Your Climate Story? Bow Seat’s 2024 Ocean Awareness Contest Invites Teens to Share Their Personal Experiences Living in Our Evolving Climate Reality
September 5, 2023

Featured Image: “Spring of Life” by Kayte Yanez (Kaufman, Texas)

(Boston, MA) – Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs (Bow Seat) is thrilled to launch our 13th annual Ocean Awareness Contest, an international arts competition that challenges youth to explore the connections between human activities and the health of our blue planet, and to creatively inspire action to protect it. The 2024 Contest, Tell Your Climate Story, asks students to think about climate issues and solutions and consider how they are affecting them or their communities.

The Ocean Awareness Contest is open now through June 10, 2024, to teens ages 11-18 worldwide. Submissions are accepted in visual and performing arts, poetry and spoken word, creative writing, film, and multimedia. For the first time, this year Visual Art is separated into two sub-categories: Handcrafted and Digital Art. We want to celebrate students getting their hands “dirty” as part of the making process, while also recognizing the unique technological skill set that digital artists possess.

Winners will be selected from each category and receive awards of up to $1,000 each. As part of Bow Seat’s long-term effort to increase the diversity of our program participants, we offer the We All Rise Prize, awards specifically for youth in the U.S. who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or Latine.

Since 2011, more than 30,000 students from over 140 countries and all 50 U.S. states have participated in the Ocean Awareness Contest, generating the largest youth environmental arts collection in the world. Bow Seat has awarded approximately $680,000 in scholarships to help advance teens’ creative talents and their 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.

“We all experience climate change differently depending on where we live. Some of us have had to flee our homes due to wildfires, while others are constantly dealing with flooded basements; your ski and beach vacations may have been altered by uncharacteristically warm weather or harmful algal blooms. However you’ve been affected – in big ways or small – sharing your climate story and educating others about your reality can be cathartic and empowering. We also know that many students have stories of hope – how they’ve noticed more electric vehicles on the road, participated in composting efforts in their schools, or encouraged their families to eat less meat. We think these stories will be a source of strength and inspiration for others, and encourage them to take action towards a healthier and more sustainable world.”
–Linda Cabot, founder and president of Bow Seat

For more than a decade, the Contest has helped to build a strong conservation ethic among students and led to positive outcomes in terms of their awareness of and connection to the issue as well as their confidence in their creative skills. According to feedback surveys from the 2023 Contest:

  • 78% of students reported that the program increased their knowledge of climate change or environmental issues.
  • 69% stated that it impacted their worldview and behavior.
  • 85% reported that creating something for the Contest (i.e., art, writing, music, films, or multimedia) helped them personally connect with conservation topics.
  • 76% reported that the Contest increased their confidence in their creative skills.

Results from sponsor feedback surveys corroborated the findings from the student surveys, confirming that the Contest is an effective tool for increasing students’ interest in and knowledge of climate change, and for strengthening their desire to make a difference in the world.

To support students’ participation in the Contest, Bow Seat curates a unique, online Resource Studio that offers an interdisciplinary educational experience—using inspirational artwork, videos, journalistic media, primary literature, interactive quizzes, and more—to teach students about climate change. It also includes a skills-based section with educational information and tips on art-making, filmmaking, spoken word, storytelling, and more. In addition, the Resource Studio provides educators with lesson plans, classroom activities, and suggested reading to help them incorporate the Contest into their classrooms and meet important educational standards across disciplines.

For more information about the 2024 Ocean Awareness Contest, visit www.bowseat.org/contest.


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

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What’s Your Climate Story? Bow Seat’s 2024 Ocean Awareness Contest Invites Teens to Share Their Personal Experiences Living in Our Evolving Climate Reality

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