News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR Announces River Of Words® Poetry And Art Contest Winners At Maryland State Fair

Ten Maryland Tributary Teams represented in contest

2009 ROW winnersTimonium, Md. (September 3, 2009) – During “Natural Resources Day” at the Maryland State Fair on Aug. 29, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the River of Words® poetry and art contest winners for 2009. Makae Luzader of Frostburg (Grades K-6) and Nicole Foggan of Millersville (Grades 7-12) were recognized for their poetry entries, and Jack Hardy of Millersville (K-6) and Brandon Casas of Pasadena (7-12) were recognized for their artwork.

“I’d like to congratulate these young people for their outstanding artwork and poetry,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “It is especially moving to see so many Maryland students aware of and thinking creatively about our Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

Over the last year, 415 Maryland school children entered their original artwork and poetry into the Maryland River of Words, a contest that teaches the next generation about watersheds and our natural environment through the arts. One poetry and art finalist were chosen in each age category (Grades K-6 and Grades 7-12) representing ten Maryland tributary areas of the Chesapeake Bay.

“River of Words fits into the larger Children in Nature initiative in that it encourages kids to get outside, become connected to nature in a very inherent way and encourages them to express those feelings through poetry and art,” said DNR Assistant Secretary Frank Dawson.

All finalists were awarded ribbons and free State Fair passes donated by the Maryland State Fair, and each champion received a $100 savings bond courtesy of BB&T Bank and a gift basket. Finalists and champion artwork and poetry are on display in the DNR Exhibit Building at the Maryland State Fair until Monday, September 7, 2009.

“The Aquatic Resources Education Program at DNR was delighted to hold the sixth Maryland River of Words award ceremony at the State Fair this year,” said Aquatic Resources Education Program Manager Elena Takaki. “We look forward to having even more poetry and artwork entries next year.”

Maryland partners with the National River of Words® program ( through the Project WET (Water Education for Teachers). The DNR Aquatic Resources Education Program manages these programs in Maryland. There are both international and State levels of the River of Words Poetry and Art Contest. Maryland students qualify for the Maryland portion of the contest automatically by entering the international contest.

To view a complete list of the Maryland River of Words Finalists and their art and poetry, visit

The deadline for next year’s River of Words International Poetry and Art Contest is December 1, 2009. For more information about the program, as well as a free online teacher's guide and instructions, visit

To ensure all Maryland young people have the opportunity to connect with their natural world and grow to become informed and responsible stewards, Governor Martin O’Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature in 2008. Under the initiative, which is now being used as a national model, the Governor created the Maryland Civic Justice Corps, a summer job and environmental education program that employs at risk youth in Maryland State Parks, and recently issued the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. A plan to implement the Partnership’s Report and Recommendations – presented to Governor O’Malley in April -- is under development. During the 2009 legislative session, the O’Malley-Brown Administration secured record funding for Maryland’s #1 ranked public schools for the third consecutive year, with an investment of more than $5.5 billion.

   September 3, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at