Kids' Posters Carry a Message in a Water District's Outreach Program

Brightly colored posters created by kids help the Monte Vista Water District spread the message of conservation year-round

Kids' Posters Carry a Message in a Water District's Outreach Program

Fifth grader Hannah Guthrie and first grader Logan Guthrie won first places in the Monte Vista Water District poster contest. Both posters were also chosen for Metropolitan Water District Student Art Calendar.

A poster contest sponsored by California’s Monte Vista Water District encourages K-12 students to promote water efficiency.

The contest was created in 1990 by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for its 26 member agencies. Monte Vista district, a member agency based in Montclair, began taking part in 2000. 

“Metropolitan Water District, our water wholesaler, created the contest to encourage member utilities to help spread the water conservation message to customers,” says Kelley Donaldson, community affairs manager for the Monte Vista district, which encompasses 30 square miles with a population of 130,000.

Her district’s program, now in its 20th year, is popular with children and the community. Students from all schools in Montclair and three public schools in Chino are eligible to enter. The contest has three categories: grades K-3, four to six, and seven to 12. First-, second- and third-place prizes are awarded in each group.

Rules and regs

The district staff promotes the contest through emails and flyers sent to the teachers starting in November of every year. After that, the district uses social media to keep the contest top of mind. “Some teachers work the contest into the curriculum and some assign it as a class project,” Donaldson says. Teachers who encourage their students to enter cover all subject backgrounds, not just science.

Posters must be submitted by April 11, and the winners are chosen the following week during a Public Information Committee meeting. Judges include two utility board members, the district general manager and the community affairs staff, for a total of five to seven.

Poster guidelines include submitting an original drawing on a 12-by-18-inch poster board or white paper. Entries must include a short water message, such as “Water Is Life.” Students are encouraged to use bold and bright colors with crayons, pencils, watercolors, markers and other media.

Prizes and recognition

First-, second- and third-place winners receive Barnes & Noble gift cards for $50, $35 and $25. In addition, the first-place winners from each age group get a pizza party for their entire class. Teachers of the student winners receive a $50 Target gift card. 

Teachers are asked to pare down their students’ entries to five and submit them to the district. Over the past several years, judges have received up to 200 entries to review. The nine student winners, their teachers and their parents are invited to the district board meeting at the end of April for recognition.

The children receive certificates and are recognized on the district website, through social media and in news releases to local media. 

Calendar kids

The winners’ entries are then sent to the Metropolitan Water District for its annual calendar contest along with winning entries from other member agencies. Thirty-six winners are featured in the Metropolitan Water District’s annual calendar, which is mass-produced and distributed to member agencies that took part in the contest.

Last year a brother and sister, Hannah Guthrie (fifth grade) and Logan Guthrie (first grade) from the Monte Vista district won two slots for the 2019 calendar. Calendar winners, along with their parents, their teachers and agency representatives are invited to a student art exhibit and recognition event to be honored for their creations.

Students take a train to the Metropolitan Water District offices in downtown Los Angeles, where they receive a certificate and see their posters attractively matted and framed and displayed in the district boardroom for all attendees to walk around and observe. Students also receive a package of art supplies. After that, a luncheon is served.

Afterward, all the framed posters are offered to member agencies for one week as a traveling display for city hall and agency lobbies.

“This contest is really a great opportunity for us to engage with our students and teachers,” Donaldson says. “Our community and board really like it. It’s an easy way for us to continue the water awareness and conservation message throughout the year.”


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