World's Largest Youth Poetry & Art Contest Winners to Receive Awards at Saint Mary's

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass to Emcee 19th River of Words Awards Ceremony

River of Words painting "Fish"What: Thirteen remarkable young poets and artists, ranging from age 7 to 17, will be honored at Saint Mary's College of California’s River of Words International Youth Creativity Awards ceremony on Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. in the LeFevre Theater at Saint Mary’s College, 1928 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga, Calif. 94575.

The largest environmental youth poetry and art competition in the world, the event, which is free and open to the public, will be emceed by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, who co-founded the contest 19 years ago with writer Pamela Michael, who directs the Center for Environmental Literacy in Saint Mary's Kalmanovitz School of Education, which sponsors the contest.

“The mission of River of Words’ is to promote literacy, the arts, and environmental awareness. Our goal is to help children fall in love with the earth, and you can see in the works of these young artists a deep appreciation and understanding of the world around them,” said Hass.

Beyond recognizing talented young poets and artists, Michael says the contest fosters environmental literacy through art. "That is especially important with the current emphasis in schools today on science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM," she said. "River of Words illustrates the value of including the arts in the mix, expanding STEM to STEAM for science, technology, engineering, 'arts' and math."

When: 1:30 p.m. Sunday, June 15, 2014

Where: LeFevre Theater at Saint Mary’s College, 1928 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga, Calif. 94575

Who: Award winners this year include young people from across the nation, including California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, New York and Washington and the winner of the contest's international art prize, a 17-year-old, hails from the Philippines. The 2014 River of Words Contest Youth Creativity Award Winners include:

  •     Grand Prize, Category I (Gr. K-3)  Art: Ellie Choe, 7, Whitestone, NY, Poetry: Savannah Walker, 9, Atlanta, GA
  •     Grand Prize Category II (Gr. 4-6)  Art: Nicole Lewandowski, 9, Cumming, GA, Poetry: Vincent Wilson, 11, Shoreline, WA
  •     Grand Prize Category III (Gr. 7-9)  Art: Anna Qian, 13, Lilburn, GA, Poetry: Dominique Golder, 12, Sarasota, FL
  •     Grand Prize Category IV (Gr. 10-12)  Art: Hannah Harms, 18, Waverly, IA, Poetry: Wesley Ma, 17, Thornton, CO
  •     Monkey’s Raincoat Prize (Poetry in the haiku tradition)  Katie Friedman, 13, Seattle, WA
  •     Shasta Bioregion Prize (Northern Calif. Award) Poetry: Megan Amaglio, 15, Larkspur, Zoe Kaiser, 16, San Francisco, CA
  •     Anacostia Watershed Prize (Washington, DC Award) Poetry: Christin Clyburn, 11, Washington, DC
  •     International Prize, Jerrika Shi, age 17, Manilla, Philippines
  •     River of Words / Kalmanovitz School of Education Teacher of the Year Joanna Fox, Booker Middle School, Sarasota, FL

The 2014 ROW ceremony will recognize more than 80 finalists from states across the nation, including: Alabama (6), Arizona (1), California (14), Colorado (4), Connecticut (1), District of Columbia (1), Florida (1), Georgia (9), Hawaii (2), Iowa (3), Maine (2), Maryland (2), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (3), Minnesota (1), Montana (2), New Jersey (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Oregon (2), South Carolina (1), Texas (1), Washington (10).  International finalists to be recognized hail from nearly a dozen countries, including: Afghanistan (1), Bangladesh (1), Canada (1), China (2), India (1), Indonesia (1), Malaysia (1), Mexico (2), Pakistan (2), Philippines (1) and Serbia (2).

Background: A program of the Center for Environmental Literacy, ROW trains educators around the world through various initiatives to integrate nature, science and the arts into K-12 classrooms, inspiring children and youth to translate their observations about their local watersheds and environment into creative expressions in poems and paintings. For the past 19 years, the ROW International Youth Creativity Awards Ceremony has been conducted in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

The 2014 winners and more than 80 finalists were selected from thousands of entries from around the world by contest co-founders Hass, Michael, Raina León, poet and Saint Mary's professor of education, renowned wildlife biologist and illustrator John Muir Laws and fine arts photographer Chris Wahlberg.

To read the poetry or view the art of the 2014 River of Words contest winners and finalists, visit For more information about River of Words and Saint Mary's Center for Environmental Learning contact Pamela Michael at (925) 631-4289 or (510) 914-1585 or by email at


Michael McAlpin,
Director of Media Relations
(925) 631-4222 office
(925) 878-9535 cell

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