River of Words Celebrates its 27th Annual Youth Art and Poetry Competition on April 23rd

The Center for Environmental Literacy's annual River of Words competition will be celebrated as part of Saint Mary's Community Day, held on April 23, 2022.

Vinci Chan, 2018 River of WordsRiver of Words® is an international youth art and poetry competition hosted by The Center for Environmental Literacy within the Kalmanovitz School of Education. River of Words has been inspiring educators and their students for over 25 years with an innovative blend of science and the arts.

Since 1995, River of Words 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, River of Words has reached thousands of educators and young people around the world.

This year’s competition has received over 1,300 art and poetry submissions from 312 schools. Out of those 312 schools, approximately 24% of them are Title I. One of the most impressive aspects of the program is its global reach. Since the launch of the 2022 contest, River of Words has received submissions from 38 countries, including hundreds of submissions from right here in the Bay Area. These poetry and art submissions on the topics of environment and environmental impacts on culture provide us with a unique window into the environmental and cultural wellbeing through the eyes of our youth that ultimately paints a picture of our future.

This year, we are honored to welcome back the River of Words co-founders: US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer prize winner Robert Hass, and author and environmental arts education activist Pamela Michael. Both Pamela and Robert have been valuable resources in helping us kick off the year and make the 2022 competition a success. We are also joined by Dr. Andrew Mount and his students in the art department at Saint Mary’s College of California. Dr. Mount continues to be of great support to River of Words. Dr. Mount and his students have been an integral part of judging our competition this year. Additionally, we would like to thank our team of poetry judges which consists of Creative Writing MFA students. We also welcome SMC Sustainability and the Green Gaels led by Anne Drevno, who have played a major role in putting together this year’s celebration event.

On April 23rd, the 2022 River of Words Celebration will be a featured part of the Saint Mary’s Community Day. Community Day is a campus-wide event for students, faculty, staff, friends and families, and local neighbors. We look forward to celebrating all of the young poets, artists, and environmentalists from around the world on campus this year.

Additionally, on March 24th, 2022, Justice, Community, and Leadership (JCL), KSOE, and the Center for Environmental Literacy are hosting a panel discussion on Climate Action and Education in K–12 schools across the United States. The panel discussion features Katie Worth, investigative journalist and author of Miseducation, who will be discussing her book on the state of climate education and literacy in the United States. Katie will be joined by educator Nancy Metzger-Carter and student-activist Talulah Juniper from Schools for Climate Action, a student-run organization advancing climate education in K–12 schools across the United States, in collaboration with school boards and states. Panelists will discuss why climate education has stalled in the United States and talk about an ongoing campaign to push congress to pass HR 29, a resolution that would support climate education across the US. The event will be hybrid, in-person in Galileo 201 and accessible via Zoom. Register here.