Student Photo Contest Launches on Earth Day

Encouraging Youth to Document Water in Our Community

April 23, 2021

Water is vital to life on Earth and our city is fortunate to be nestled along the mighty Ohio River, and close to beautiful streams and wetlands. But we also face frequent flooding and pollution is a threat to many of our waterways. To mark Earth Day 2021, the Louisville Free Public Library, together with the Kentucky Division of Water, Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, University of Louisville College of Education, Louisville Water Company, Waterfront Park, and River City Paddle Sports, is launching a photo contest for K-12 students in the Louisville area on the theme of water.

Ripple Effects: Exploring Water in Louisville invites young people in our community to capture images of what water means to them. From rivers to raindrops, puddles to ponds -- what is most beautiful about water in our community and what water-related problems do we need to address? How do we use, recreate, and interact with water?

Photo submissions are due by June 10 (one photo per student). Cash prizes for 1st ($200), 2nd ($100), 3rd ($50), and honorable mention ($25) will be awarded for the best photographs in the following age categories: kindergarten through 2nd grade; 3rd through 5th grade, middle school, and high school. The winning entries will also be featured in an exhibit this fall as part of the Louisville Photo Biennial. Winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony on June 21 at Waterfront Park.

The contest is made possible through generous donations to the Library Foundation from the following sponsors: River City Paddle Sports, Friends of Waterfront Park, Salt River Watershed Watch, MSD, Ed Allgeier, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Beargrass Creek Alliance, Forecastle Foundation, Wilderness Louisville, Louisville Photographic Society, AFLOAT: An Ohio River Way of Life, The Cookie Project, and the Louisville Photo Biennial.

Students who do not have access to a camera or smart phone will be able to check out a digital camera from the Louisville Free Public Library starting April 22.

Photography Workshops: Ripple Effects partner organizations will host three workshops in May for students interested in learning the art of photography. Workshops are free for students K-12, but space is limited and registration is required. The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage and the Louisville Free Public Library will host two virtual classes on Wednesdays, May 5 and 12 featuring photographer Aukram Burton, Executive Director, Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. On Saturday, May 8, Waterfront Park will host an in-person workshop with photographers John Nation and Joe Wolek at Waterfront Park.

To learn more about the classes and the Ripple Effects photo contest, visit

Citizen Science: All contest participants will be invited to upload their entries to ISeeChange, a national community weather and climate journal that combines volunteer observations (photos and text) with, cutting-edge weather and satellite data. ISeeChange also works to connect the public to journalists and scientists who can help answer and report on climate related questions. Locally, the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage—with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and in partnership with the Kentucky Division of Water, University of Louisville College of Education, and Louisville Free Public Library—will conduct two community forums on the topic of extreme precipitation. More information on the project can be found on SciStarter, a globally acclaimed, online community-based science hub hosting more than 3,000 projects, searchable by location, topic, age level, and more. To learn more, visit

In need of inspiration? Stop by the Main Library’s Bernheim Gallery to view the new exhibit River of Life: Cities and Towns Along the Mighty Ohio. The display features a 50’ mural representing the Ohio River Recreation Trail; historic photographs taken by Reuben Gold Thwaites on his 1893 Ohio River rowing trip from Pittsburgh, PA to Cairo, IL; contemporary photos of river towns by Louisville-based photographers John Nation and Joe Wolek; and native bird photographs by Pam Spaulding. This free exhibit is open during regular library hours and is sponsored by UofL Honors Seminar on the Ohio River; Afloat: An Ohio River Way of Life; Ohio River Recreation Trail; Ohio River Basin Alliance; The National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. Go to to learn more.

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