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It all starts here, with YOU! This is a call for submissions to the Water ’22 Student Showcase, open to all K-12 students, ages 5-19, throughout Colorado. This free Student Showcase is designed to help young people connect with the value of water in daily life and the natural and built world around them, encourage critical thinking, and emphasize the crucial role young people play as water leaders who can help identify solutions for water sustainability. The deadline for submissions is October 7, 2022, at 11:59 PM.

Using whichever medium interests you most, we invite you to create a work that reflects a place, thing, or activity you cherish within your watershed, or river basin, connected to water. This place, thing, or activity could be a favorite park, an animal population that lives in the neighborhood, a hobby, a landscape feature, or a local business that is dependent on water, to name a few. You must also include a paragraph (up to 300 words) explaining the relationship between their work and the following learning objectives.

Entrants will submit their work for the Water ’22 Student Showcase via the online portal. We accept submissions in English or Spanish.

Notable Colorado artists, writers, and water professionals will judge submitted work. Four students across all Categories will receive cash awards ranging from $250-$2,000 based upon their demonstration of passion and creativity as awarded by the judges. The top entrants from each Age Division will receive a gift card, an invitation to meet state government and water sector leaders at the state Capitol in January 2023, and have their works showcased on the Water ’22 website, www.water22.org, and in venues across the state such as water centers, libraries, museums, and state government buildings. And, teachers who assist students will be entered into a drawing to win one of two $250 cash prizes.  All entrants will receive a digital certificate.

For more information, please visit water22.org/youth-engagement. Send questions to cailyn@wateredco.org.

Learning Objectives

Connection: Water connects us all.

The student is able to demonstrate how their cherished place, thing, or activity is connected to water and links the student to others through a shared connection with water - required for Grades K-12.

Sustainability: Think upstream and downstream, past, present, and future.

The student is able to describe/depict a potential risk/concern and solution that ensures their cherished place, thing, or activity is sustained for future generations to appreciate - required for Grades 3-12.

What is a River Basin?

A river basin, also known as a drainage basin, is an area of land where rainfall and snowmelt collect and drain into a larger, shared outflow such as a major river, ocean, or lake. The major river basins within Colorado span large, diverse geographic areas and are comprised of many different communities and cultures, making each basin unique. A major river basin can be divided into smaller watersheds - areas of land that drain to creeks or streams that flow into the larger river as tributaries. For example, the Animas, Piedra, and San Miguel watersheds are just a few smaller watersheds that makeup Colorado’s San Juan/Dolores (or Southwest) river basin. Bear Creek, Boulder Creek, and the Cache La Poudre River are just a few of the smaller watersheds in the South Platte river basin.

Everyone lives in a river basin! Even if you don’t live next to a river or stream, the land you live and play on eventually drains into a stream, lake, or major river. People often connect with water at the watershed level because it is a personal, more intimate scale. Thinking at this scale, how do you connect to water in your home, neighborhood, or the places you recreate?

Colorado has eight major river basins: Arkansas, South Platte, North Platte, Yampa/White/Green, Colorado, Gunnison, Rio Grande, and San Juan/Dolores/San Miguel. For this Student Showcase, we identify a ninth area, the Denver Metropolitan area, which is part of the South Platte River Basin. Not sure which river basin you live in? Check out the Find My River Basin section below.

Find my River Basin

Not sure which River Basin you live in? This section is for you! Students, you may want to ask a parent or teacher for help if you are having trouble.

To find your River Basin, click first on this interactive map from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

  1. Under the top menu, right under the CWCB logo, click on "Location Tools"
  2. Click on the "Zoom to Address" button
  3. Enter your home or school address and search
  4. Look to see in which River Basin your pin dropped - that is your River Basin! (Note: you may need to zoom out to see the River Basin name)

Age Divisions

*Age Division for submissions is determined by the student's grade level recently completed or currently attending

Kindergarten-Grade 2

Grades 3-5

Grades 6-8

Grades 9-12


Creative Writing (i.e., poetry, written lyrics, short stories, script, etc.)

Critical Writing

Graphic design, Digital art & Architecture

Painting & Drawing

Photography & Film

Modeling & Engineering


Music & Performance Arts

Sculpture & Ceramics

Miscellaneous (fashion, and other)

Each student is required to

  • Declare Grade Level (see contest rules below)
  • Declare Category
  • Submit one (1) created work (see contest rules below)
  • State their river basin from the following list: Arkansas, Colorado, Gunnison, North Platte, Rio Grande, San Juan/Dolores/San Miguel (Southwest), South Platte Metro, South Platte Non-Metro, Yampa/White/Green
  • Include a paragraph (up to 300 words) explaining the relationship between the submitted work and the required learning objective(s).

Timeline of Student Showcase

October 7 Deadline for submissions

November 14 Notify students who produced top work and request follow-up as appropriate (e.g., video clips, physical items for display, or in-person performances)

November 2022 through December 2023 Showcase student work across the state through various online platforms and venues - examples may include local libraries, schools, local and state government offices, college and university buildings, book & film festivals, art museums, water conferences, or water-related publications.

Rules & Guidelines

  1. The contest is open to K–12th-grade students, ages 5–19. Entries for K–5th-grade students must be submitted by a parent, guardian, educator, or facilitator.
    1. Age Division for submissions is determined by the student's grade level recently completed or currently attending.
    2. If submitting an entry created by a group with multiple grade levels contributing to and submitting a single work, submit the work to the Age Division of the group member in the highest grade level.
  2. Students may enter only one work per Age Division per Category.
    1. The same work may not be submitted to more than one category.
  3. All entries must be submitted through the online portal.
  4. Performances or works that include motion (e.g., Performance art, engineering solutions, etc.) must be submitted as a video.
    1. Music may be submitted as a video or audio recording.
    2. Following judging, top submissions may be requested to perform or demonstrate in person.
  5. Physical art pieces should be captured and submitted as photographs or scans.
    1. Three-dimensional objects (e.g., pottery, sculpture, modeling, etc.) should be captured with a brief video or photographs from multiple angles that show the entire piece in detail.
    2. Following judging, top submissions of physical pieces may be requested to be sent or delivered to a location for display.
  6. Writing submissions have a word limit of 500-3,000 words (not including works cited).
  7. Written poetry must not exceed 32 lines in length or 3 minutes signed (ASL) and be submitted to the Creative Writing Category. Poetry performances (Slam poetry, rapping, etc.) should be submitted to the Music & Performance category.
  8. Image files should have a resolution of 300 dpi and not exceed a file size of 5 MB.
  9. Video and audio files should not exceed 5 minutes in length or exceed a file size of 350 MB.
  10. English and Spanish submissions will be accepted.
  11. Cash Awards are distributed as follows to the top four student submissions: Grand Prize $2,000, 1st $1,000, 2nd $500, 3rd $250
  12. For a teacher to be entered into the $250 drawing, student(s) must submit their name as the Adult Helper on the submission form.
  13. All work must be original.
  14. DEADLINE: All entries must be submitted by October 7, 2022, at 11:59 PM.
  15. Top submissions will be announced in November 2022.

All Showcase entrants confer rights to the use of artistic work by Water ’22 and partners.Click here to view the rubric for the Water ‘22 Student Showcase. For more information, please visit water22.org/youth-engagement.

Have a question? View our FAQ document to find your answer or email cailyn@wateredco.org.

Additional Resources

Looking for activities that spark creativity? Try an activity or skim through resources in the Teaching the Poetry of Rivers Curriculum, sourced by Colorado Humanities and written by Kathryn Winograd - Colorado poet and Creative Writing Judge for the Water '22 Student Showcase.

Have questions? Check out our list of FAQs for help.

Not sure which river basin you live in? Follow the instructions on our Find my River Basin document.

Curious how your submission(s) will be judged? Read through the Water ’22 Student Showcase Rubric.

To start, enter the address of the school or institution address. If homeschooled, enter the home address.

To start, enter the address of the school or institution address. If homeschooled, enter the home address. 

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.