Explore Your Local Watershed with River of Words

The 2022 River of Words contest is now open for submissions.

River of Words® is a program of The Center for Environmental Literacy and a part of the Kalmanovitz School of Education. Acknowledged pioneers in the field of place-based education, River of Words has been inspiring educators and their students for over 25 years with an innovative blend of science and the arts.

The theme of the contest is "watersheds." A watershed is a system of creeks, streams, or rivers that empty into a larger body of water; every plant, animal, person, and object a person sees in their day-to-day life is a part of their watershed.

The goal of River of Words is to connect youth with their watersheds through art and poetry. For some people, that means a lot of green and open space; for others, that means a city environment, with different noises, smells, and sights. We are looking for youth to show us what only they see about their world.

For tips on what we are looking for, watch this video and click to download our ROW Art and Poetry Inspiration Guide.

Center for Environmental Literacy Fellow, Sarah Ray, shares valuable art and
poetry tips for your entries into the ROW contest.


River of Words is its own watershed: a linked network of people throughout the United States and the world who are committed to teaching the art and poetry of places to young people. Since 1995, River of Words and the Center for Environmental Literacy has encouraged young people to explore and savor the watersheds where they live and trained educators to guide them with inspiration and passion. Through professional development and other educational services, traveling exhibits, publications and community programs, ROW reaches thousands of educators and young people around the world.

All entries to our 2022 ROW contest will be accepted online only. In order to be more in line with our environmental mission, we will no longer accept physical submissions entries and paper entry forms in order to decrease our carbon footprint. The online submission portal is now open. All United States and international entries (Georgia and Arizona excluded) must be submitted by December 1, 2021. Residents of Georgia and Arizona should submit directly to their state contests ONLY. Submissions will then be sent into the CEL River of Words contest for consideration.  

Please email rowinfo@stmarys-ca.edu with any questions.