Raise Your Voice Not The Sea Level Essay Scholarships

Our Oceans in
a Changing Climate

A Creative Challenge
for Students Worldwide

Climate change is the biggest issue of your lifetime. Your whole life will be lived as the impacts of global climate change are taking place. Our Contest is a call for young artists, thinkers, and activists who are concerned about the future of our human and natural communities to use their creative voices to explore, express, and advocate for issues related to climate change and our oceans.

Our health is tied to ocean health, whether we live on the coast or 500 miles inland. Human systems – social, economic, political, and cultural – are interdependent on the ocean; however, human-caused global warming is already producing substantial changes to our coastal and marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on them, including: rising sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, melting land ice, dead zones, sea level rise, fishery declines, coastal erosion, and extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

We believe that creativity is power. You play an important role in shaping the future world. Your creative voice has the ability to: expose what is happening to our oceans and what may, or will, happen; question the societal norms that have brought us to this point; reflect and reshape what it means to be a human in the 21st century; discover and advocate for solutions; and persuade others to take action.

The Ocean Awareness Student Contest is open to students aged 11-18 worldwide. Your work should explore the relationship between human systems, climate change, and our oceans. We challenge you to create a piece that not only presents issues and challenges, but also communicates a message that inspires others to act. We encourage you to connect your submission to your own life, your local community, or something else that motivates you.

Submissions are accepted in:

Download Info Packet >

We invite you to consider these questions as you do research and create your work:

  • How do human systems affect the ocean? How do oceans affect life on land? How are ocean health and human health connected?
  • What responsibilities do humans have to the natural world and its inhabitants?
  • What will the planet look like in 2100 if we continue with “business as usual”?
  • How do oceans play a role in mitigating climate change?
  • Who is responsible for climate change?
  • How large is your carbon footprint? How do you play a role in causing – and preventing – the impact of climate change on our oceans?
  • Will climate change affect everyone equally? How will your community have to adapt?
  • How does mass media play a role in shaping the stories we hear about climate change?
  • What innovative solutions have been created or proposed to address the impacts of climate change on our oceans? What challenges do these solutions face to widespread implementation?
  • How does meaningful change happen?
  • How should scientists, designers, and policy-makers work together to address climate change issues?
  • How can we communicate stories about our oceans and climate change that make an impact on others and compel them to act? What strategies do artists use to help us understand the impacts of climate change as well as to move us to feel something about it?

Share this opportunity with others. By giving young people an opportunity to express their ideas and think creatively about ocean conservation, we hope to create a wave of climate action around the world. Use the hashtag #IAmOceanChange and connect with us @fromthebowseat!

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Awards will be presented in each of the categories at both the Junior and Senior divisions:


Junior Division

Senior Division

Honorable Mention



Recognition Awards



Additional Awards Available in 2018

Over the course of the Contest, other awards may become available and will be listed here. The winners of these awards will be chosen and announced at the same time as the category awards.

Making Waves Award
The Making Waves Award will be awarded to one submission in each age division that demonstrates a powerful, engaging, and original voice of ocean activism. Winners receive a $250 cash prize.


Students from around the world are invited to participate in the Ocean Awareness Student Contest. Enter the division based on your age:

  • Junior Division: Age 11-14 before the Contest deadline June 18, 2018
  • Senior Division: Age 15-18 before the Contest deadline June 18, 2018

Submission Categories


All visual interpretations of the theme are welcome in this category. Your work may be in any medium, including painting, drawing, printmaking, digital art, sculpture, photography, and much more.

Submission Requirements:

  • You may submit up to 3 photos/views of your artwork
  • Files should be JPGs, PNGs, GIFs, or PDFs. We cannot accept .zip files
  • Make sure your files are high resolution, not crooked, and can easily be viewed

Required Reflection:
Include the title of your work, a personal reflection of up to 250 words, and a bibliography (any style) citing any ideas, facts, quotes, or existing media used in your artwork that are not your own. The file should be a Word document (.doc or .docx) or PDF.

Using Others' Artwork for Inspiration
We encourage you to learn from and be inspired by other environmental artists and designers as you create your piece. If your Art submission is influenced by someone else's work of art, or if your submission uses someone else’s image/artwork/photograph, you must give credit to the original source in your bibliography.


All pieces of written and spoken poetry which interpret the theme are acceptable in this category.

Submission Requirements:

  • Files should be a Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF document
  • Submission length:
    • Junior Division: no more than 1 page
    • Senior Division: no more than 2 pages
  • Include the title of your work in this document
  • Please include a bibliography (any style) of any ideas, facts, and quotes that are not your own. Your bibliography does not count towards your page count.
  • Your submission should be written in English

Required Reflection:
Upload a Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF document with the title of your work and a personal reflection of up to 250 words.

Video (optional):
You may include a video of you performing your poem. If you choose to submit a video, please note that it should be in the following format:

  • No more than 3 minutes in length
  • Upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo. Provide the video URL in your online submission form. Do NOT submit a Word or PDF document with a link to the video.
  • Name your upload as: “2018 Ocean Awareness Student Contest (Poetry) – Poem Title”
  • Paste your reflection and bibliography into the video description


All forms of written interpretations of the theme (except poetry) are acceptable in this category. Feel free to write fiction, nonfiction, personal memoirs, analytical essays, nature writing, political advocacy, op-eds or news articles, or any other form of prose.

Submission Requirements:

  • Files should be a Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF document
  • Submission length:
    • Junior Division: 3-5 pages
    • Senior Division: 5-8 pages
  • Your submission should be written in English
  • Include the title of your work in this document
  • Document should be in 12pt font, Times New Roman, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins
  • Please use in-text citations (parenthetical or footnotes, in any style) and include a bibliography (any style) for any ideas, facts, and quotes that are not your own. Your bibliography does not count towards your page count.

2. Required Reflection
Upload a Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF document with the title of your work and a personal reflection of up to 250 words.


All types of cinematic interpretations of the theme are acceptable in this category, from animations to short narrative films, and much more.

Submission Requirements:

  • Upload your film to YouTube or Vimeo and provide the public URL on the submission form
  • 2-4 minutes in length
  • Include a title and credits in the film itself for any information, images, audio, or video clips that are not your own
  • Name your film as “2018 Ocean Awareness Student Contest (Film) – Film Title”
  • Paste your reflection and bibliography into the video description
  • Ensure that your video is not private
  • Your submission should be in English

Required Reflection:
Upload a Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF document with the title of your work and a personal reflection of up to 250 words.


Submissions may include audio documentaries, song parodies, or original compositions in any musical genre.

Submission Requirements:

  • Submission should be no more than 4 minutes in length
  • Record a video of yourself performing the work. The video may include other images or video, but must contain footage of your performance.
  • Upload your performance to YouTube or Vimeo and provide the public URL on the submission form
    • Include a title and credits in the film itself for any information, images, audio, or video clips that are not your own. If you create a song parody, you must credit the original songwriter.
    • Name your film as “2018 Ocean Awareness Student Contest (Music) – Song Title”
    • You may include lyrics as captions in the video
    • Paste your reflection and bibliography into the video description
    • Ensure that your video is not private
  • If your submission has lyrics, you must upload a Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF document of your song lyrics (in English). If your song is performed in a language other than English, you must provide an English translation of the lyrics.

Required Reflection:
Upload a Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF document with the title of your work and a personal reflection of up to 250 words.


The written reflection helps your audience and the judges understand more about you, your work, and the issue you are addressing. It is like the introduction to a book, or an artist’s statement in a museum. The judges will not lower your score for a poorly written reflection, but writing a thoughtful and personal reflection will certainly help the judges understand you and your work better, and you will likely do better in the Contest!

But why do I have to write about my work, instead of letting my work speak for itself?

It’s important to practice talking about your work because it is one of the hardest but most fundamental skills of being an advocate. People who see your work will likely want to ask questions that only you can answer—the reflection is kind of like an FAQ. Why did you do what you did? How did you create it? What inspired you? What have you learned through your exploration of climate change? Entice people who see your work to look longer, deeper, and most of all to think about the issue you are trying to address.

The arts have the power to start conversations, raise awareness, and inspire action by asking viewers to think not only logically or critically, but also emotionally. With this in mind, we invite you to reflect on the question: How does climate change make you feel?

Reflection Requirements

  • Length: 100-250 words
  • Your reflection should be written in English.
  • File Format: PDF or Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx)


We have many resources to help you get started on your submission, including tips and inspiration, resources for learning more about climate change impacts on our oceans, links to organizations working on climate change, and much more!

Sponsors & Teachers

Each individual or group who submits to the Ocean Awareness Student Contest must have an adult sponsor. Sponsors are usually teachers, parents, or mentors. We ask each student to have a sponsor so that if we have trouble getting in touch with a student, we have an alternative means of contact.

We think that one of the most important parts of ocean advocacy is building relationships and having conversations about ocean issues. Regardless of how closely sponsors do or do not work with students as they prepare their submissions, we encourage students and sponsors to use each other to practice talking about climate change and how the creative arts can make a meaningful difference in our world.

We also offer nomination-based Sponsor Recognition Awards of $750! Students, nominate your awesome sponsor by using this online form.

More information for Sponsors and Teachers >

Rules & Eligibility

Competition Period

  • The 2018 Ocean Awareness Student Contest opens for submissions on September 18, 2017. All submissions must be received by Monday, June 18, 2018 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time (ET) to be considered in the 2018 Contest. The online platform will close automatically at the Contest deadline. Please plan accordingly!

Who May Enter

  • This is an international Contest and is open to students in middle school or high school worldwide.
  • Students age 11-14 (before the deadline June 18, 2018) may enter the Junior Division. Students age 15-18 (before the deadline June 18, 2018) may enter the Senior Division.
  • Participants under the age of 13 must have a parent or legal guardian complete a Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Parent/Guardian Consent Form and upload it as part of their submission.
  • Entries may be submitted by an individual or group of unlimited size. If you submit as a group, there must be one group leader who will serve as the contact person for the group. All of the names of the group members must be listed in the submission. Award money will be split among the group members.
  • Any student may submit (i.e., have their name included in) only one entry per category. Therefore, a student may have a maximum of five different submissions, one in each category.

How to Enter

  • There is no fee to enter the Contest.
  • Students must create an account and submit their work through our online system by the Contest deadline June 18, 2018. Bow Seat cannot accept submissions via email or physical mail.
  • Students must have an adult sponsor – usually a teacher. Homeschooled students may put down their homeschool teacher’s name.
  • Entries submitted previously to the Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Student Contest will not be considered in the 2018 Contest. Submissions must be created during the 2017-2018 academic year (between June 2017 and June 2018).
  • All entries must be the students’ original work. While we recognize that existing sources will be used for inspiration and research, Bow Seat reserves the right to disqualify an entry at any time if we suspect or determine plagiarism.


  • Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs reserves the right to use students’ work for marketing and promotional purposes in any and all media.
  • All winners and their sponsors will be notified by email before they are publicly announced on our website.
  • Bow Seat promises to run this contest fairly, ethically, and with integrity.
  • All judging decisions are final.


All 2018 Contest results will be announced in January 2019.

Bow Seat Judges are artists, writers, teachers, filmmakers, scientists, and of course, ocean-lovers! Meet the Team >

Submissions are judged based on:

  • Artistic voice, originality, and imagination
  • Craftsmanship, including quality, technique, attention to detail, and accuracy of communicating issues
  • How well they address the theme of the Contest
  • Meeting the Contest submission requirements

Judging begins immediately after the Contest ends, and we take the time to fairly judge each and every entry to the Contest. In 2017, we received over 2,700 entries and our team of judges put in over 2,000 hours of cumulative work reviewing your submissions.

We know that you’re anxious to hear Contest results. We take an enormous amount of pride in the amount of care we put into the Contest, and we hope that you can be patient with us as we continue to do so!

Encouraging the younger generation to participate and come up with solutions to address a host of environmental issues like global warming, rising sea levels and climate change, representatives of Green Climate and its women’s wing plan to organise drawing and painting competition next month.

In tune with the current year’s slogan of the World Environment Day – ‘Raise your voice, not the sea level’ being observed on June 5, the team members intend to raise awareness among the little ones and motivate them to add colour to their green themes through paintings.

With the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere crossing 400 parts per million, the growing need to preserve the planet was highlighted by the organising committee here on Wednesday. “Our environment impacts the food we eat and air we breathe. And before the situation gets worse, we want to educate people about the intricacies of global warming along with other issues,” J.V. Ratnam of Green Climate said.

A group of 12 environmentalists, including Anti-Privatisation Committee P.V. Ramana and Andhra University Professor in Zoology C. Manju Latha along with members of the Green Climate – S. Ravikanth Reddy and K.L.S.S. Koumudi – unveiled the posters of the drawing and painting competition which is scheduled to be conducted on June 1 at Visakhapatnam Public Library between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. followed by prize distribution ceremony. As part of the day’s agenda, documentary films on environmental issues will also be screened.

With the focus on the topic ‘Environment protection’, the contest will be held in two groups – juniors (Classes IV to VII) and seniors (Classes VIII to X) wherein the participants are requested to bring their own drawing materials except A4 size drawing sheets. Interested ones can submit their details by contacting the mobile numbers: 9346360919 or 9640569182 or visit the venue on June 1 at 7:30 a.m. for spot registrations.


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