Photo by Kathrin Swoboda

Student Project

The Environment Is in You

A Student Photography and Original Illustration Contest
Grade Level: 8-12

Contest Details

Disponible en Español

In this contest, students will take a photograph or create an original illustration that documents the fragility, hope, and future of our planet’s ecosystem due to climate change. 

Inspired by the works of writers Linda Hogan, Robert Hass, Wendell Berry, and Dara McAnulty, students will explore changes to local ecosystems, how the environment shapes our identity, and how our actions and awareness today can impact the future. 

As the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) report indicated in August 2021, the earth has reached the warmest temperature since before the last ice age 125,000 years ago. We’ve witnessed extreme weather events occurring at an unprecedented rate with droughts, wildfires, floods, and increasing storms. Sea level rise in coastal regions around the world could lead to the migration of millions of people. According to a 2019 United Nations assessment, global warming and human activity is altering natural landscapes so radically that as many as one million species of plants and animals may become extinct, many within decades. 

With climate change drastically shifting the landscapes we call home, students consider the following questions:

Driving Questions

In what ways is climate change impacting the place where you live?

How is climate change affecting your way of life and your way of being in the world? 

Contest Inspiration: Four Environmental Writers

We’ve selected four excerpts from writers whose works lie at the intersection of conservation and environmental activism including Native Chickasaw writer Linda Hogan, Pulitzer prize-winning poet Robert Hass, environmental writer and farmer Wendell Berry, and youth naturalist and conservationist Dara McAnulty. Students will choose one of the following excerpts as inspiration for their photograph or original illustration. 

  1. “What a strange alchemy we have worked, turning earth around to destroy itself, using earth’s own elements to wound it.” —Linda Hogan (Chickasaw)

  2. “A starting place for this work would be to recover an elder imagination of the earth.” —Robert Hass

  3. “The environment is in you, it’s passing through you, you’re breathing it in and out, you and every other creature.” —Wendell Berry

  4. “In a fast-paced and competitive world, we need to feel grounded. We need to feel the earth and hear birdsong. We need to use our senses to be in the world. Maybe, if we bang our heads against a brick wall long enough, it will crumble and fall. And maybe the rubble can be used to rebuild something better and more beautiful, enabling our own wildness. Imagine that.”—Dara McAnulty

Mary Ellen Newport’s ecology class (left) and student winner Abigail Getty (right)

Guidelines and Rules

  1. Contestants must be ages 13 and up in the U.S. and 16 and up globally. Check our Submission Guidelines and Rules and our Terms of Service for more details.

  2. All entries must be related to the contest theme: The Environment Is in You. Students will submit one photograph or original illustration that is a response to one of the excerpts above from Linda Hogan, Robert Hass, Wendell Berry, or Dara McAnulty. How might the excerpt you choose inspire your photograph or illustration?

  3. Photo entries and original illustrations must be accompanied by a short artist’s statement (a minimum of 100 words and a max of 600). Artist’s statements can also be in the form of a poem. The aim of this statement is to tell the story of what is captured in the photograph or illustration. Statements must respond to at least two of the following questions:

    • How is your artwork a “love story” to the planet? 
    • In what ways has your local ecosystem changed in the last few years? How might your artwork document that story? 
    • How might your artwork document your feelings about climate change? In what ways might the environment shape your identity?
    • In what ways has the COVID-19 pandemic revealed new ways of seeing climate change? How might you capture our earth in a time of ecological crisis? 
    • What would you like your artwork to communicate to your peers, community, or the world?
  4. Images should help to express students' human relationship with our planet. Students can include themselves and others in their photographs. If your photograph contains a person, you will need to fill out and return the Photo Subject Release Form.

  5. The photograph or illustration submitted must take into consideration the Global Oneness Project’s mission statement: Planting seeds of resilience, empathy, and a sacred relationship to our planet. 

  6. Each photograph or illustration and response must be original and previously unpublished. Photographs may also include photo collages, but not be heavily edited (e.g. photoshopped).

  7. Eligible entries will be judged by a qualified panel consisting of professional filmmakers, photographers, and authorized personnel from the Global Oneness Project. Only one entry per contestant.

  8. Prizes. Winners will be awarded $200 USD each and photographs will be published on the Global Oneness Project website. 

  9. All entries must be accompanied by this signed Parental Permission Form

  10. All entries must be received by May 5, 2022. Winners and finalists will be announced and notified on May 26, 2022.

Related Resources

Student Gallery

From artifacts and portraits to landscapes of the living world, explore student photography and original illustrations to foster curiosity and inquiry in the classroom.

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