Ridgway student artists and poets win $575 in Spirit of the River Youth Art & Poetry Contest

The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership (UWP) is awarding a total of $575 to student winners in the Spirit of the River Youth Art & Poetry Contest. The contest was part of UWP’s celebrations of its 10th year as a nonprofit in Ouray County, dedicated to protecting and restoring the natural, scenic, and economic assets of the Upper Uncompahgre River Watershed.

Ridgway 8th grader Ariel Hessler, 13, won first place, $200, a certificate, and a ribbon for her painting with a quote from Norman Maclean. Judges’ comments included: “Any image that simultaneously reminds me of Vincent Van Gogh & Katsushika Hokusai is a powerful work of art. The quotation is also perfectly apt, summarizing why watershed protection is such a vital pursuit.” And, “this piece beautifully showcases the movement of water and reminds us that all things merge with our rivers – a beautiful reason to protect them!”

By Ariel Hessler

Ridgway 5th grader Emma Birck, 10, won second place, $100, a certificate, and a ribbon for her poem titled “Our Shared Watershed.” Judges’ comments included: “This poem has a strong message for readers about the importance of a healthy river and holds our attention with some rhyming, too.” “The lines of this poem are beautiful but the structure also resembles the flowing of a river. A great example of incorporating structure into the meaning of a poem!” “This poem is unique in presentation and thorough in addressing the problems of water pollution and the solutions we can do to help. It creates a complete image of an ecosystem that relies on healthy rivers.”

Ridgway sister and brother Julia Coburn (5th grade, 10) and Michael Coburn (2nd grade, 7) won third place, $50, a certificate, and a ribbon for their watercolor painting of evening in the watershed. Judges’ comments included: “I love the simplicity and emotion this painting evokes. Clean like the spirit of a river deserves to be. Nostalgic like an evening hike in the moonlight.” And, “I love the images of the happy, healthy fish occupying the entire river run.  It reminded me of the goal some people are pursuing to re-establish healthy trout runs further up the Uncompahgre River.”

The winning art and poems will be displayed at UWP’s 10th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Ouray Community Center, as well as at Citizens State Bank in Ridgway from Nov. 20 to Dec. 19. The contest submissions will also be shared on UWP’s website.

The contest was open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade in the seven-county area within the Uncompahgre River Watershed. Contest judges were Ridgway Secondary School Science Teacher Amber Smith, Ridgway resident and Animas Environmental Services project manager Angela Todd, Ouray resident and award-winning, published poet Beth Paulson, Ridgway Real Estate Broker/Associate Charles Mueller, and Ridgway artist and owner of Wishing Star Pottery and Mountain Girl Gallery Deidra Krois.

Receiving honorable mentions are: Sadie McCracken (poem), Emily Thompson (art), Julia Coburn (poem), Jonah Hepp (poem), Tate Lockwood (art), Brielle Haag (art), Emma Birck (art), Sadie McCracken(art), and Isabel Kamm (art). Each of these students will receive $25, a certificate, and a ribbon.

The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership engages in activities focused on monitoring conditions to better understand watershed health and evaluate changes, and maintaining, enhancing, and improving ecosystem functions, water quality, and water quantity necessary for overall watershed health. To achieve these objectives, the nonprofit develops diverse collaborations and promotes best practices and awareness of science and watershed conditions to ensure ongoing stewardship of the watershed and its many uses. For more information go to uncompahgrewatershed.org.