2017 Creative Advocacy Competition
Have you ever been upset to see soda cans, cigarettes butts, and candy wrappers littering your favorite beach or park? Do you wish your school provided recycling bins for disposable water bottles? Or maybe you’d prefer that your friends didn’t use disposable water bottles at all!
If you care about marine debris issues and want to make a difference in your community, we invite you and other middle and high school students from the United States to participate in the first-ever Bow Seat Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition! Enter individually or rally a group to work together. There is no fee to enter the Competition.
We challenge you to design, implement, and assess a creative marine debris advocacy project in your school or community, with the goals of educating the public about the issue, inspiring people to change their behavior, and engaging them in an activity that reduces or prevents marine debris. Your project should take into account a specific marine debris issue (or issues) that impacts your school or local community.
Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs is proud to offer awards of up to $5,000 to students and student groups whose projects most effectively raise awareness of and address the marine debris problem through creativity, community engagement, and activism.
Winners will be announced in Fall 2017. Students are free to use their awards however they choose, but they are encouraged to use their awards for continued study or continued operation of their advocacy projects.
To recognize participants’ commitments and efforts to make a difference in their communities, every student will receive a Certificate of Participation acknowledging their contribution to this NOAA-sponsored Competition.
I’m interested… Tell me more!
OK, so what is Marine Debris?
Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes. Our oceans, lakes, and rivers are filled with items that do not belong there – plastic bags, soda cans, tires, abandoned fishing gear, and other foreign objects – that threaten marine life, our environment, the economy, and human health.
Most importantly, marine debris is preventable. This is where you come in!
Arts for Advocacy
Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions and change behavior. At Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, we believe in the power of the creative arts to raise awareness of the marine debris problem in ways that inspire the public to take action. Access to facts, while important, does not alone inspire long-term, measurable behavior change. The creative expression of information through the arts is a powerful tool that taps into human emotions and speaks to personal beliefs, which is necessary to drive a widespread cultural shift away from our “throwaway culture” and toward one that values the health of our oceans.
We encourage you to use the creative arts whenever possible throughout your project to educate your audience about reducing litter and marine debris. Consider how an informational brochure or poster, innovative media, or other art campaign can play an important role in meeting the goals of your project.
Benefits of Conducting a Creative Advocacy Project
This Competition is 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. When you do, you are more invested in your work, and the subject matter is “stickier.” And when you reflect on what you’ve done, you realize that you have the ability to make a real difference in your own life and in your world!
By participating in the Bow Seat Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition, you will have the opportunity to create meaningful, measureable change in your community at school and beyond. At the same time, we hope to increase your self-confidence and help you build skills – including leadership, critical thinking, project management, communications, and teamwork – that will be valuable in all areas of your life.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
Follow the steps below and click on the links in the right-hand-side toolbar to find out how to participate in the 2017 Bow Seat Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition.
Download a printable version of the complete information packet.
If you have any questions about the Competition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Step 1: Brainstorm
Learn & Be Inspired
Immerse yourself in the issue of marine debris. Get started on your research by reviewing our useful links below. Go into your neighborhood to observe and document problems such as littering or the consumption of single-use plastics. Have conversations with your principal, town officials, or local business owners to identify challenges and opportunities specific to your school or community.
Here are some resources to help you get started on your project, including educational materials for learning more about marine debris, and inspiration to get your creative juices flowing!
Brainstorm ideas for how you can tackle the problems you uncovered. Who do you want to reach, and what are your goals? How can you incorporate the creative arts to raise awareness, tug at emotions, and encourage behavior change?
Select a project that you feel passionate about and that is relevant to your school or community. Create a list of tasks that must be completed to achieve your objectives, including deadlines and team member roles. Identify the materials you need to carry out these tasks (e.g., flyers, art supplies, recycling bins) and the budget necessary to purchase these items.
Need help brainstorming your creative advocacy project?
- Host a marine debris education art show, film, or lecture series with an opening reception in your town or school. (Feel free to use Bow Seat’s student art and other persuasive imagery – check them out on our Arts in Action resource page!) Bow Seat can provide you with student work and other resources to assist you in hosting a marine debris-themed art exhibition.
- Create a series of public service announcements about the marine debris problem for your local TV, radio station, or newspaper
- Create an educational mural or storm drain public art campaign in your town
- Create a campaign to prevent or reduce specific types of waste on your school’s campus
- Design and lead a marine debris environmental education curriculum for your local elementary school
- Set up an informational table at your school or local supermarket to distribute information about marine debris; include a petition for individuals to make a personal pledge to reduce their single-use plastic consumption
- Work with a local restaurant to find and use more sustainable options than single-use takeout containers
- Make and market upcycled marine debris products (e.g., art, jewelry, accessories)
- Design or implement a litter trap system (trash capture technology)
- Develop a smartphone app or website with tools for learning about and tracking litter/marine debris in your local watershed
Step 2: Prepare & Register
Find a Sponsor
Each individual or group who participates in the Bow Seat Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition must have the support of an adult sponsor. Your sponsor will provide you or your team with guidance throughout your advocacy project and will serve as an additional point of contact. This sponsor may be a teacher, community member, local business owner, etc., but may not be your parent.
You must submit a signed letter of commitment from your sponsor as part of the registration process for the Competition.
We think that one of the most important parts of ocean advocacy is having conversations about ocean issues, including marine debris. We encourage students and sponsors to talk with each other about marine debris and how the creative arts can make a meaningful difference in our world.
Read the Rules
Don't skip the fine print! The Competition Rules contain a lot of important information about deadlines, eligibility, file formats, and more. It's important to read these through before you move forward with your project.
- The 2017 Bow Seat Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition begins September 15, 2016 at 12:01 AM Eastern Time (ET) and closes on June 19, 2017, 11:59 PM Eastern Time (ET). The online submission platform will close automatically at the Competition deadline. Please plan accordingly!
Who May Enter
- The Competition is open to middle and high school students in the United States, District of Columbia, and U.S. territories who are in grades 6-12 (or the homeschool equivalent) during the 2016-2017 academic year.
- Students under the age of 13 must have documented permission from a parent or legal guardian to enter the Competition. This consent will be provided by a signed Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Privacy Notice form that will be required as part of the registration process.
- Entries may be submitted by an individual or by a group of unlimited size. Groups must select one point person, and all group members must be named in the Final Project Report. Awards will be distributed evenly among all group members.
- A student may submit (i.e., have his/her name included on) only one entry in the Advocacy Competition.
- However, that student may submit original art, poetry, prose, and/or film to Bow Seat’s other program: the 2017 Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Student Contest, including works that are used as part of his/her advocacy project. All entries to the Ocean Awareness Student Contest must be the student’s original work.
How to Enter
- There is no fee to enter the Competition.
- Students must select an adult to be their sponsor for the Competition. This sponsor may be a teacher, community member, local business owner, etc., but may not be their parent.
- Students and groups interested in participating in the Competition must create an account and register through our online system. During this step, students will provide basic contact information, briefly describe their project ideas, and upload their sponsor’s letter of commitment. (Students under the age of 13 must also upload a parent/guardian permission form.) Their registration must be approved before moving forward in the Competition. Registrations are evaluated and approved on a rolling basis; students and their sponsor will receive an email regarding their registration status within one week of submission.
- Upon approval of their registration, students will be emailed a link to access their online Project Report. Final Project Reports and supporting materials must be submitted through our online system by June 19, 2017, 11:59 PM Eastern Time (ET) in order to be considered for the 2017 Competition.
- All activities detailed in the Final Project Report must take place during the 2016-2017 academic school year - between September 2016 and June 2017. We understand that the entire project may not be completed by the Competition deadline.
- Only complete Project Reports will be considered for the Competition. Consult the Final Project Report checklist to keep track of the information and supporting materials needed for submission.
- Each student must complete the required Pre- and Post-Participation Surveys, which will be made available after the student’s registration has been approved and after the Final Project Report has been submitted, respectively. These surveys are intended to gauge participants’ environmental awareness and attitudes, which will inform Bow Seat’s program evaluation and development. The surveys are in no way tied to the judging process.
- The supporting video that is required as part of the Final Project Report must comply with the following requirements:
- Be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and named: 2017 Bow Seat Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition-Project Title
- Be 3-5 minutes in length (end credits, if applicable, do not count towards this time limit)
- Include an overview of the marine debris problem; project goals, audiences, activities, challenges, and accomplishments; and a call-to-action
- Credit all sources used to create the video in the end credits
- Additional supporting materials for the Final Project Report must be submitted as one of the following file types: Word, PDF, JPG, or PNG. These supporting materials should be named in the following manner:
- Video Release Consent Form:
Video Release-Student First Name-Student Last Name-1, Video Release-Student First Name-Student Last Name-2, Video Release-Student First Name-Student Last Name-3, etc.
- Project Artifacts:
Artifact-Student First Name-Student Last Name-1, Artifact-Student First Name-Student Last Name-2, Artifact-Student First Name-Student Last Name-3, etc.
- Works Cited:
Works Cited-Student First Name-Student Last Name
- Video Release Consent Form:
- Judging begins immediately after the Competition closes. Decisions of the judges are final.
- Submissions will be evaluated based on the quality and thoughtfulness of the Final Project Report, how well the project addressed the Competition’s goals, and how effectively students integrated the creative arts into their campaigns. The required supporting video will not be evaluated by its technical quality; rather, judges will consider its artistic voice and students’ passion in advocating for behavior change to address the marine debris problem.
- Due to regulations governing NOAA's Federal grant, we are unable to award submissions that include any lobbying activities. If you are unsure if your activities qualify as lobbying, please contact us at email@example.com.
- One (1) Gold winner, one (1) Silver winner, two (2) Bronze winners, and ten (10) Honorable Mention winners will be selected. Students are free to use their awards however they choose, but they are encouraged to use their awards for continued study or continued operation of their advocacy projects.
- Winners and their sponsors will be notified via email before they are publicly announced on Bow Seat’s website in Fall 2017.
- All winners must submit a W-9 form before receiving their awards.
- Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs reserves the right to use students’ work for marketing and promotional purposes in any and all media.
- Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs promises to administer this Competition fairly, ethically, and with integrity.
Students and groups interested in participating in the Competition must create an account and register through our online system. We encourage you to register early!
You will need:
- Basic contact information
- A brief description of your project idea
- Signed letter of commitment from your sponsor (Download the template)
- Parent/guardian permission form (Required for students under the age of 13)
Your registration must be approved before moving forward in the Competition. Registrations are evaluated and approved on a rolling basis; you and your sponsor will receive an email regarding your registration status within approximately one week of submission.
3. Take Action
Fill Out the Pre-participation Survey
After your registration is approved, you will receive a link for a pre-participation survey. Survey responses will not influence our approval decision or judging. The survey is intended to measure participants’ environmental awareness and attitudes, which will inform our program evaluation and development.
Review the Final Project Report Checklist
Use our Final Project Report checklist to keep track of the information and supporting materials you’ll need to document and collect throughout your project.
- Statement of Problem (50 words)
How does marine debris impact your school or community?
- Objectives (100 words) – What specific goals did you hope to achieve through your project?
- Target Audiences (100 words)
Who did you engage in your project? Did you form any partnerships? Who benefited from the project?
- Anticipated & Actual Challenges (100 words) – What challenges did you expect to face during your project? What complications actually arose? How did you modify your project to address these unexpected challenges?
- Budget Narrative (150 words)
Did you need funding to execute your project? How did you raise money? If applicable, please list your expenses and funding sources.
- Project Activities (250 words)
Describe at least one marine debris prevention activity or event that you completed as part of your advocacy project. Include how you integrated the creative arts into this activity.
- Impacts (200 words)
What did you achieve? Be specific! (For example, did you educate other youth about recycling, or reduce plastic use?) How many people did you reach? How many volunteer hours were spent on your project? Do you think that your project has the potential to have continued, long-term impacts?
- Personal Reflection (250 words)
What has been the most meaningful part of the project to you? What skills have you gained from this experience? How have your environmental attitudes changed? Has this experience changed actions in your everyday life?
- Supporting Materials:
- Video (required)
URL link to original 3-5 minute YouTube or Vimeo video that includes an overview of the marine debris problem; your project goals, audiences, activities, challenges, and accomplishments; and a call-to-action
- Video Release Consent Form (required)
Signed copy of the form for each individual who is prominently featured in your video
- Project Artifacts (optional, but recommended)
Copies of materials created during project development, including – but not limited to – research or brainstorming notes, interview transcripts, task lists, maps, artwork, photographs, audio files, and communications materials such as flyers or brochures
- Works Cited (required, if applicable)
List of the sources of all works of art used in your project that are not your own
- Video (required)
Document Your Journey
Capture every step of your project via video so that you can share your journey with others. How does marine debris impact your community? How did you try to address these problems through your project? Who did you engage? What challenges did you face? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? You will use this footage to create an edited 3-5 minute video (to be submitted as part of your Final Project Report in Step 6) to educate others about the marine debris problem and inspire them to become a part of the solution in their communities.
Never made a video before? No problem! Here are resources to help you create one.
We’d love to share your video on our website, so please make sure that each person who is prominently featured in your video (or their parent or guardian if they are under 18) sign a Video Release Consent Form giving us permission to share your work publicly. It’s what professional videographers do all the time – just print out a bunch of copies and carry them with you when you plan to film. You will submit these forms to us with your Final Project Report.
Save Project Artifacts
As you work, save copies of materials created while you develop your project, including – but not limited to – research or brainstorming notes, interview transcripts, task lists, maps, artwork, photographs, audio files, and communications materials such as flyers or brochures. Also be sure to record the sources of all works of art used in your project that are not your own.
Step 4: Submit
Complete Your Final Project Report
When Bow Seat approves your registration, you will be emailed a link to access your online Final Project Report. This will be the primary way for you to report on your advocacy campaign, and by which Bow Seat will judge your submission to the Competition.
You must submit your Final Project Report and supporting materials through our online system by the Competition deadline: June 19, 2017, 11:59 PM Eastern Time (ET).
Now sit back and feel awesome about yourself and the work you’ve done on behalf of our Blue Planet.
Fill Out the Post-participation Survey
After you submit your entry, you will receive a link for a post-participation survey. What did you learn from the project? Have your attitudes towards marine debris changed at all? We want to know! Survey responses will not influence judging. The survey is intended to measure participants’ environmental awareness and attitudes, which will inform our program evaluation and development.
Nominate Your Sponsor for an Award
Bow Seat grants Sponsor Appreciation Awards of $750 to sponsors who help change the lives of their students and change the world for the better! These awards are nomination-based, so give props to your sponsor today!
We realize that this Competition involves many components, but don’t worry! This planning document and checklist will help keep you organized and on track.