Alachua County Hosts Third Annual Environmental Art Contest

Photo courtesy of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department.
This piece of artwork titled “The Tree of Life” by Sierra Hagle from Westwood Middle School, won 8th place in the category last year. Photo courtesy of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department.

Students of all ages in Alachua County can now put an eco-friendly twist on their artwork.

The Alachua County Environmental Protection department is hosting its third annual “Saving My Alachua” art contest.

Open to all students in Alachua County grades K-12, including homeschoolers, the contest encourages students to create art that showcases their interest and passion for the environment.

Students can submit their artwork from now until Feb. 5, 2016.

“The idea actually started as a team project,” said Eliana Bardi, ACEP senior planner. “We wanted to do something to bring out environmental awareness from the citizen’s perspective while also showing everyone what our department does.”

To do this, the five categories of submissions for the contest were created to match the five sections of the ACEP department: water conservation, stormwater pollution, natural habitat protection, wilderness and wildlife protection, and proper disposal of toxic waste.

And the contest has been growing each year since its inception three years ago.

“The first year we got about 180 submissions and last year we got about 380,” Bardi said. “We’re hoping these numbers continue to rise as more people hear about the contest.”

All winning artwork will be displayed in the County Administration Building during the month of April 2016, and selected winners will be featured in the 2017 “Saving My Alachua” calendar, according to a press release.

Ribbons are awarded to first, second and third place in each grade for K-8. Ribbons are also awarded for first, second and third place in the High School category, which includes all grades 9-12.

“To help get the word out, we have an environmental outreach program that works with the volunteer coordinator of the Alachua County School Board,” said Bardi. “Teachers at local schools are given past calendars and entry forms to hand out to their students.”

As far as judging goes, Bardi said that’s done within her department. All the artwork received is divided into categories and posted around the ACEP offices.

The artwork is anonymous, with only the names of the pieces shown. Voting forms are filled out by everyone in the department and the votes are tallied up to decide who the winners are.

“It’s a great way to engage the K-12 demographic in environmental awareness,” said Ramesh Buch, land conservation program manager at ACEP. “There’s an overwhelming sense of community to it all. Kids and parents love it.”

More information and details about the contest can be found on the ACEP website.

About Justin Hamstra

Justin is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

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