Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition

A watercolor painting of plastic bottles on store shelves filled with water and fish. A hand is holding a bottle filled with polluted liquid and a fish.
High School artwork from a previous silver winner of Bow Seat Awareness Programs’ Ocean Awareness Student Contest. (Photo Credit: Bow Seat Awareness Programs)

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, with support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, implemented a new Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition. The competition challenged teens to design and implement a project that reduced or prevented marine debris at their school or in their neighborhood by combining their creative skills with knowledge of ocean science and a passion for ocean conservation.

Type of Project: Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Grant

Region: National

Project Dates: September 2016 - August 2018

Who is involved?
Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs put on a new Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition with support from a NOAA Marine Debris Program Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Grant. Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs also partnered with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, Center for Coastal Studies, Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association, Hurricane Island Foundation, Mass Poetry, Massachusetts Marine Educators, National Sciences Ocean Bowl, PangeaSeed Foundation, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Seacoast Science Center, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, and the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit to promote this competition, which invited students to create projects in their own communities and schools that focused on marine debris education and prevention.

What is the project and why is it important?
Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs started a new competition which addressed marine debris advocacy. The Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition challenged U.S. middle and high school students to design and implement a real-world project in their school or community that used the creative arts to educate others and inspire action that reduces or prevents marine debris. Students were instructed to submit a short, viral-ready video of their project and a summary report of their campaign. Project examples included a student-run, plastic-free campus campaign; an educational lecture series, film screening, or art exhibition; or a used-fishing gear drive. Winners received prizes, which include substantial scholarships for students, teachers, and schools. Over the course of this two-year project, the competition ran twice, with the 2017 Competition running from September 2016 through August 2017, and the 2018 Competition running from September 2017 through August 2018.

The goal of the Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition was to get students to use their creative skills to make meaningful, measurable, and inspirational change in their communities and the world.

Bow Seat Advocacy Programs has a mission to inspire and empower the next generation of ocean caretakers through art, science, and advocacy. This competition was based on the growing understanding that combining skills from the creative arts with experiential, or project-based, learning is an extremely effective way to spark passion and action. Changing our world for the better starts by inspiring youth to vividly imagine a better future and empowering them to create it themselves.