Ocean Steward Art Contest Winners

The winning entries of O'Neill Sea Odyssey's Spring 2014 Ocean Steward Art Contest.

by Hilltromper staff

July 28, 2014—The winning entries of O'Neill Sea Odyssey's Spring 2014 Ocean Steward Art Contest are the cutest darn things we ever did see. Smart, too. As in, "If we knew then what these kids know now, we'd live in a better world."

Take the 1st Place winner, "Pajaro River Watershed," by Brisa Arias. The Mintie White Elementary School fourth grader's picture of the watershed shows water features (rivers and lakes), plant communities (redwoods), human uses (agriculture and an airport), the marine environment (with sea otters, surfers, sea turtles, starfish and plankton) and the wetland community (in the form of a giant Great Egret). It demonstrates a solid grasp on the interconnected nature of our surroundings and the different types of ecosystems around us. The Pajaro River runs through the center of the picture, draining watersheds as it goes. Young Brisa and her teacher, Kelly Freels, each receive free passes for a one-hour O'Neill Yacht Charter cruise. Lucky ducks.

The Ocean Steward Art Contest, held each year in spring and fall, shows off the artwork of kids who've gone on the O'Neill Sea Odyssey learning cruise during that semester—and helps demonstrate the ways in which OSO's techniques are working. By helping kids grok the land-ocean connection—especially the way plastics, road runoff and other pollutants make their way into the marine environment—OSO hopes to raise the next generation of ocean stewards.

“Creating art is a powerful means of communicating behaviors and emotions regardless of cultural and/or socio-economic background,” says Adam Steckley, OSO's Operations Coordinator. “We have both recognized and appreciated this for years, and more importantly, utilized these interpretations in OSO’s recent long-term impact study.”

Read about that study, and a fifth-grade class's outing with O'Neill Sea Odyssey, in How to Save The Sea Otters.

The four Honorable Mention images show off ocean communities too. One student's picture shows a sea otter with its primary food source, kelp. Student Jazmyn Goldberg's image depicts a sea lion basking on the shore while dolphins splash in the waves and fish weave in and out of the kelp forest. In Kaitlin Schmauch's drawing, a mother dolphin and her calf swim through an ocean teeming with life, both inside and outside of the kelp forest. Colin Keith's illustration of a graceful sea otter swimming through the kelp forest with sea urchins and sea stars close at hand, while butterflies float over the waves, makes great use of color and perspective.

It's good stuff, and it will be on display in the OSO classrooms at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor.

To learn more, visit the O'Neill Sea Odyssey website.