California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

May 18, 2015Caitlin Fitzwater

Winners of the California Arts Council’s “Conservation Creativity Challenge” Poster Contest Announced

Hundreds of students illustrate creative water conservation ideas in classrooms across California

Sacramento -

The California Arts Council is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Conservation Creativity Challenge Poster Contest. More than 650 children across California participated in the contest, which aimed to educate students about the serious California drought, and to help raise awareness of everyday water conservation practices through the arts and creativity. All California students in 4th and 5th grade were eligible to participate and win prizes, including gift cards, and the opportunity for their artwork to be displayed in the State Capitol.

Through this initiative, the California Arts Council, in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, Save Our Water, and Project WET, supported State Drought Task Force efforts and Governor Brown's goal of awakening all Californians - including young people - to the ongoing need for water conservation in our state.

Through the contest, educators and parents were encouraged to harness the creativity of 4th and 5th grade students while fulfilling state education standards. Students were invited to invent fun and unique ways to reduce water use, and illustrate their best idea with an original poster design. Entries were submitted from nearly every corner of the state. A map of participating schools can be viewed at this link:

"The arts offer a unique way to illuminate reality," said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. "Utilizing the arts and creativity through this classroom poster contest deepened student engagement and understanding about water conservation in California. The Conservation Creativity Challenge contest was successful in helping students engage with these important conservation values in new and fun ways."

"In light of the current, severe drought it is more important than ever to encourage all Californians to develop lifelong resource stewardship habits," said Michelle Robinson, Water Education Specialist at the California Department of Water Resources. "The Conservation Creativity Challenge is a great way for students everywhere to get involved and share their ideas about saving water every day."

2015 Conservation Creativity Challenge Poster Contest Winners

From a pool of semi-finalists, four winners were selected from each grade. The artwork of all finalists is displayed at this link: The contest results are as follows:

Mikayla Fojas, Holy Angels School, ColmaFourth Grade

  • First Place: Mikayla Fojas, Holy Angels School, Colma (artwork pictured)
  • Second Place: Sarah Zuniga, Valley Prep Academy, Fresno
  • Third Place: Abigail Cheng, The Hamlin School, San Francisco
  • Honorable Mention: Tristan Esguerra, Leo Croce Elementary School, Livermore
  • Semi-Finalists: Andrea Ayala, Tamarack Elementary School, Avenal; Ellary Isherwood, Coyote Valley Elementary, Middletown; Gemma Machule, Alvarado Elementary School, San Francisco; Jaylene Villar, Holy Angels School, Colma; Jeremiah Tinker, Richfield Elementary School, Corning; Lena Szerwo, Roosevelt Elementary, Santa Barbara; Nitti Dungwatanawanich, Arroyo Seco Elementary, Livermore; Quintin Holzem, Three Rivers School, Three Rivers

Halan TranFifth Grade

  • First Place: Halan Tran, Luigi Aprea School, Gilroy (artwork pictured)
  • Second Place: Charisse Chih, Valentine Elementary School, San Marino
  • Third Place: Joseph Loring, Luigi Aprea School, Gilroy
  • Honorable Mention: Clio Ayres, Alvarado Elementary, San Francisco
  • Semi-Finalists: Alex Bloyer, Luigi Aprea School, Gilroy; Angel Gonzalez, Tamarack Elementary School, Avenal; Chloe Dang Nguyen, Sky Arts Studio, Newark; Felix Milionis, Alvarado Elementary, San Francisco; Franchesca Cu-Pyun, Holy Angels School, Colma; Griffin Johnstone, Alvarado Elementary School, San Francisco; Jane White, Encinal School, Atherton; Johann Amador, Foothill Oak Elementary, Vista; Kailyn Rocha, Valley Prep Academy, Fresno; Karisia Corona, Julien Hathaway Elementary School, Oxnard; Oswaldo Ramirez, Tamarack Elementary School, Avenal; Steven Mills, Three Rivers School, Three Rivers; Vianney Ruelas, Stanley Mosk Elementary, Winnetka

Teacher Testimonials

"My students really enjoyed this activity because they were asked to think of ways to help within their own community. Here in the mountains of the central valley, our wells are going dry and people are becoming even more concerned about the drought our community is facing." - Mindy Gresham, 5th Grade Teacher at the Coarsegold School in Coarsegold

"My students really retained the information they learned about water conservation because they were so excited to make the posters. They loved the idea of being able to influence others." - Melissa Smith, 4th and 5th grade teacher at West Street Elementary School in Corning

"My students were engaged creating posters for water conservation, especially since many of the students have family and relatives working out in the fields. They were so inspired that many of the students researched water conservation on their computers and also kept a watchful eye on the amount of water we used in the art classroom.  Instead of running the water to wash paint brushes and dishes, the students filled a large container with water to clean the supplies." - Mary Nixon, art teacher at Valley Prep Academy in Fresno

"While students were recognizing why water is important many students sprang into action. Brainstorming ideas for conserving water at school and at home, students exchanged creative ideas, and created a visual presentation of their ideas. Students were active taping their creative posters around the school and in the classroom. Other students said they will help their families conserve water at home. The lesson brought more awareness to the school's administration to reinforce water conservation education." - Naomi Oken, art teacher at ICEF Vista Elementary in Los Angeles

Visit to find out how everyone can do their part to conserve, and visit Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought. Special thanks to the California Department of Water Resources, Save Our Water, and Project WET.

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The Mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Donn K. Harris, Vice Chair Susan Steinhauser, Michael Alexander, Phoebe Beasley, Christopher Coppola, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Nashormeh Lindo, Steven Oliver, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at

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