River of Words is a California-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in association with Saint Mary’s College.
They have been conducting training workshops for teachers, park naturalists, grassroots groups, state resource agencies, librarians and others since 1995, helping them to incorporate observation-based nature exploration and the arts into their work with young people.
In addition to helping improve children’s literacy—and cognitive skills like investigation and critical thinking—River of Words’ multidisciplinary, hands-on approach to education nurtures students’ creative voices as well, through instruction and practice in art and poetry.
The results have been successful beyond our most audacious hopes—
community partnerships in support of education and watersheds creek clean-ups and restorations student poetry clubs and art exhibitions oral history projects school gardens Girl Scout Watershed patches, developed in conjunction with US EPA and many, many more wonderful projects
Their goal is to get kids excited about learning, and to connect informed and engaged citizens with businesspeople, government agencies, and learning communities, working together toward common, self-defined goals.
Perhaps the best way to understand their impact and mission is to view some of the poems and artwork created by children around the world.
These extraordinary works were submitted to their free, annual environmental poetry and art contest, conducted in affiliation with The Library of Congress Center for the Book.
The contest theme was watersheds, a meaningful, scalable way of looking at the whole of nature.
The watershed art and poetry submitted to River of Words is exhibited around the globe and is seen by millions of people each year, both in person, and reprinted in magazines, books, annual reports and other media. Every painting, every poem contributes to an informed appreciation of the natural world and the interconnectedness of all beings.
If you’d like to help your community, class, or group begin to creatively explore your own watershed—as well as its natural and cultural history—or if you’d like to get involved with the work they do at the national and international level, please visit the official Saint Mary’s site at: https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/center-for-environmental-literacy/river-of-words