I am a personal donor and a huge fan of the beautiful poetry that is the heart of ROW program. A chorus I sing with, WomenSing, partners with ROW. Our chorus commissions young composers to write music for the poetry and we connect the poet with the composers so they can have insight into each others creative process. The young poets have been remarkable in their observations, articulate and thoughtful. The chorus and its supporters have been enriched by observing the process and through their contact with ROW.
I'm a professional nature writer and a long-time enthusiast of River of Words (ROW). In its early years, I worked for International Rivers Network where ROW got its start, and was fortunate to work events in San Francisco and Washington. D.C. when the kids were celebrated and honored for their work. One year, I interviewed all the kids, and their positive and passionate attitudes were awe inspiring. I can easily say that ROW is my favorite kid-friendly environmental and art organization.
This is a great program to help these youngsters see the artist in there! Roll on river, roll on. I see poems form past participants other places now too.
The River of Words poetry contest has shown my students that they can be inspired to write about their love for the natural world and be recognized for their efforts. Not only is the potential for publication a powerful incentive for writing, the publications of previous winners provide models to encourage and instruct my students in their own endeavors. When my students began to become winners and travel to Washington DC for the awards ceremony it added another dimension to this potential for recognition. This sense of limitless possibility was not a feeling many of the winning children were used to, one in particular, who was chosen as a grand winner, had been homeless on and off for some time and was amazed at the outside interest and encouragement provided by River of Words. I have countless stories of how participation in the River of Words program have has helped inspire my students, and been an invaluable tool in assisting me to teach writing skills. I have found that writing about the natural world opens up opportunities to work with other disciplines. I decided to work with an after-school environmental club. It was in one of these short workshops that Luis wrote Waterfall Slam the poem that secured him a place as a finalist in the ROW contest. For a fourth grader, it was a major encouragement, he had an article and photo in the newspaper and the experience changed him. He became one the most self-confident writers in the fifth grade. The following year, he was the MC for Poetry night, was referred to the gifted program and went to Middle School as an honor student. I was impressed by the power of success to bring more success. Carlos was a finalist in the River of Words two years in a row. He wrote a poem both in English and Spanish in his fifth grade class. The first year Carlos didn’t want to read his poem in Spanish but he we convinced him to do it anyway. When a family from Puerto Rico came up to him afterward, who had only understood the Spanish version, he was always eager to read his poems in both languages. He was invited back to DC for the third time to read at the National Book Festival. He even signed the beautiful River of Words Book at the book signing with Pamela Michael. I was given the Teacher of the Year award in May of 2009 and it was a great honor. This program has changed lives including mine.
A committed and energetic crew supports River of Words. I had the wonderful opportunity to see how Pamela, Susan, and Louisa work tirelessly to help the organization remain active. No other organization works as hard to encourage children to make the connection between themselves and the rivers and wetlands surrounding their homes. The workshops they offer help introduce poetry and art to students in a time when these essential activities receive very little funding from local and national governments. I fear that without River of Words we might lose a generation of poets, artists, and environmentalists.
As a teacher and administrator, I find River of Words to be the very best program/contest for elementary school students. It is really the only one I emphasize every year at our school with teachers and kids. It is so important for children to understand their connection to the natural environment because it encourages responsibility, stewardship, and certainly learning. Children naturally seek to know how they fit in to the world. How they belong. Understanding one's watershed and then expressing this understanding and relationship in words and visual arts has brought out some truly amazing and outstanding products. This program has opened the door of poetry to some very unlikely students. We had one National Poetry Winner from our school, a State Art Winner, as well as other students recognized. I always display every entry in our school so all of the participants are recognized. This program is a perfect vehicle for integrating so much of the curriculum...science, art, writing, environmental studies, social studies, and even math!
Students colored their ideas of a river and life in/around it. They designed it on envelopes and wrote stories in Spanish and/or English about what they learned. The 450 envelopes were streaming through the class upon completion and the students learned in art that the process was called an "installation." Suggestion:the website can post literature for parents to become involved so that the art and writing can be a home assignment.
River of Words is a wonderful organization which recognizes the strong connection kids feel to the natural world and encourages them to express themselves through poetry and art. The results are amazing! Each year the contest produces a wonderful outpouring of inspiration from students all over the world. The resource materials and lesson plans for teachers are first rate. I recommend this program to classroom teachers at every level!
River of Words provides a wealth of curriculum resources to teachers to support environmental education through art and writing. I found out about their amazing resources and student art and poetry contest in 1998 and have been sharing the wealth with my students ever since. River of Words is a trailblazer in Environmental Education. Their international contest is extraordinary in the ways that it touches and inspires students and teachers around the world. Their books are treasures for the classroom and I share them each year with a new group of students to inspire THEIR vision for preserving, conserving and treasuring our natural resources around the world.
The river of words nonprofit has inspired my 5th grade students to submit poetry and art for the River of Words yearly competition. Our local ESD 113 in Olympia, Washington has a local celebration and sends it's top placing poems to the National contest. It such a joy to see students share their feelings through poetry as they work hard to edit and revise for a perfect poem.
The River of Words curriculum is inspirational to students, who get to experience nature in a less structured and more personal way than many lessons, and to teachers who get to be children again and open their eyes to wonder. The entire program makes a huge difference by reminding people of the beauty of nature and the diverse ways in which people experience that beauty.
Mother Nature is our first and best teacher. She is not concerned with test scores or the latest fad in education. She is honest and authentic. River of Words, through their poetry and art initiatives, provides the platform for educators the world over to provide authentic education to their students. The arts are the most human endeavor we can engage in and education should be about developing humans not test takers. Helping our students discover that poetry hides everywhere from the whisper of the wind to the crevices etched by time and to be incite awe in Mother Natures's beauty is what River of Words is all about.
I'm so inspired by the creative and insighful poetry and art submitted to River of Words, year after year, from children around the world. This small organization does wonders encouraging kids to express their connection with water and nature.
Not for profit organizations are all about people, and ROW staff are at the top of their profession in caring about their mission and teaching the next generation environmental literacy. As a poet myself who has attended events at which ROW student poets read their work, I am impressed by their bravery and commitment, and strength which derives from the curriculum and the heartful nature of that curriculum.
In researching watershed environments as preparation for their paintings & drawings, my students developed an awareness of how we need to care for these places. The students demonstrated genuine engagement in their new appreciation of the valuable resources these environments provide.
River of Words helps me inspire my children -- after I am inspired. Guidance and poems are thought provoking. After family discussions about the environment, and then poetry, and how the two are combined, my children work on thoughtful poems.
The artwork produced by children all over the world, some in very challenging circumstances, is an inspiration to all. It is of very high standard and shows great awareness of both the beauty of the environment and the problems which need to be addressed.
River of Words is the ideal in promoting water education. We used their resources as examples for our local teachers to help them brainstorm ideas of their own and bring the love of water into their classrooms.
My son was a student at the Greenwood school from 2000-2004. The River of Words philosophy and programs really inspired my son. He is now a junior at Hampshire college creating his own major focusing on how to create meaningful art that can help educate the general public about environmental and social justice issues. He is intending to create an after school ROW program this year through his college( in Amherst, MA) for local younger students
Teachers respond to ROW as a way to help them teach environmental education topics and environmental sensitivity in the classroom. ROW gives us an opportunity to combine science with the arts by giving students the chance to express their thoughts and feelings about their watersheds and related science topics. They can increase their sense of place through creating art and poetry of their home. Students respond to ROW because it's FUN and gives them a chance to show their talents and learn more about art and poetry. In this time of reduced school art programs and lack of environmental education, ROW provides a way to allow students to learn and grow in both.
I was a board member for River of Words for three years. I witnessed the impact the River of Words program had on children around the country and the world--both in terms of the educational benefits of the ROW curriculum as well as the creative output and practical engagement that results from their annual Art and Poetry contest. If children are the stewards of the future, River of Words helps prepare them beautifully for this role.