“Water: The Cycle of Life” Poster Contest

Poster contest

Students in 4th and 5th grades are invited to get creative and learn about the effects of urbanization in North Carolina through the “Water: The Cycle of Life” poster contest. This annual, statewide educational competition has seen a Wake County student win big at the state level! The contest is sponsored by Wake Soil and Water Conservation District and Novozymes North America, Inc., a biotechnology company based in North Carolina.

Theme of the Year

This year’s theme will challenge elementary school students to illustrate how development can affect rain and stormwater runoff in areas that have seen huge population growth. Land covered with buildings, roads and parking lots means rain can’t soak into the soil, but instead can become polluted as it runs off pavement and into nearby streams, lakes and rivers.

Students will research and illustrate one of many innovative best management practices designed to slow stormwater runoff, spread it out, and soak it into the ground to be filtered clean and recharge groundwater. These practices are used across the world to ensure stormwater is a valuable resource instead of a polluted waste product. Examples include rain gardens, riparian buffers, stormwater wetlands, rain barrels, cisterns and green roofs, which are plants growing in a lightweight medium on the roof of a home or building to retain rainwater that falls on them instead of just causing runoff.


Posters are judged on 50% scientific content and 50% artistic originality by stormwater experts who appreciate children’s artwork. Posters must be the original work of individual students (no group posters, please). Please see the Poster Contest Rubric linked below.

Awards and Prizes

Schools will submit the top three posters from each of their participating 4th and 5th grade classrooms (or youth groups will submit their top three posters.) Each entry will receive a ribbon and certificate. The top 10 poster winners will be recognized at December’s Conservation Awards Celebration Dinner, sponsored by the Friends of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District.  At the event, the top 10 winners receive framed certificates, and the top three are awarded $100, $50 and $25.

The first-place 4th and 5th grade posters advance to regional competition, which may lead to state competition. Winning posters that have earned first place at all three levels have won their student artist up to $400 in cash prizes!

How to Register and Deadline

To register, teachers and youth leaders of grades 4–5 can fill out the entry form by Friday, Oct. 14, and will receive a study guide, rubric and other helpful resources with science content and art tips.

The top three posters from each participating classroom or youth group must be submitted flat (not rolled) for judging by Friday, Oct. 28. Schools can schedule poster pickup in their school office with the Wake District. Individual 4th and 5th grade students in Wake County may also enter the contest, even if their school or youth group is not registered. In this case, the poster (flat, not rolled) must be delivered to Wake District by the October 28 deadline.

For more information or to sponsor the Conservation Poster Contest, please email Wake District Educator Sheila Jones at sbjones@wake.gov or call 919-410-2676.