Student Video Contest

The River Starts Here, a partnership of local public agencies striving for clean water, invites 6th through 12th grade students to enter our second annual Portland and Vancouver area middle and high school video contest. We are excited to see your creative videos that share how every person can help support clean rivers and streams!

Students in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington and Clark County are eligible to apply. Washington state students apply here.

Application Details

Application deadline for entry is May 20, 2021!

Contest entries will consist of 25- or 55-second videos about water pollution. All Portland-Metro area middle and high school students are invited to participate. Public, private, charter, and home school students are eligible.


A $500 first prize will be awarded in each of these four prize categories:

  • 🎥 Best Community Storytelling video
  • 🎬 Best Clean Water Action video
  • 🙌🏿Best BIPOC Filmmaker video (we want to hear voices from our BIPOC community! Choose from any category)
  • 🥇 People’s Choice (overall favorite based on video engagement. Choose from any category)


Video entries must focus on one of the following stormwater pollution prevention topics:

  1. Clean Water Actions: create a video that shares everyday actions people can take for clean water. Please choose actions within these sub-categories. You can click on each link to read more.
    • 🚴‍♀️Active transportation: minimize pollution from driving and maintaining vehicles
    • 🚿Rivers are also drinking water: reduce stormwater pollution down our drains for clean drinking water
    • 🐟 Climate Change: take action to stop climate impacts on salmon and our waterways
    • 🍃Leave No Trace: protect rivers while enjoying the outdoors
  2. Community Storytelling: create a video that highlights the work of a community organization working for clean rivers and streams. These organizations can work on environmental justice, waterways or engaging people in the outdoors.  
    • Watershed Council examples: Find yours here!
    • Environmental Justice examples: Portland Harbor Community Coalition, Blueprint Foundation, Latino Outdoors, OutdoorAfro, OPAL, Wisdom of the Elders, Wild Diversity, 350PDX.
    • Environmental examples: Portland Audubon, Columbia Land Trust, Sierra Club, Oregon Wild.


  • May 20, 2021: applications due
  • June 4, 2021: finalists notified
  • June 11, 2021: deadline for finalists to submit MP4 files
  • June 14-21, 2021: social media campaigning for People’s Choice award open
  • July 1, 2021: winners notified and press release distributed
  • Summer 2021: winning videos used in RCCRS water health campaign
  • Fall 2021: winning videos screened during Portland EcoFilm Festival


Am I eligible to enter the contest?

The contest is open to 6th-12th grade students in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties. Clark County students can also apply through a different application process.

Can my video be about anything related to clean water?

Find a list of eligible topics above. Choose one that’s meaningful to you and read the information carefully.

What prizes could I win?

Four $500 prizes are offered: Clean Water Actions, Community Storytelling, BIPOC Filmmaker, and People’s Choice. See the details above.

How long should my video be?

Video contest entries can be either 25 or 55 seconds long to allow them to be used in The River Starts Here social media campaigns.

Can I submit more than one video to the contest?

Yes, we’ll accept two entries per student. Please complete a separate application for each entry.

Can I use stock footage or images?

We want to see your creativity! Your entry should primarily consist of original footage, filmed or animated by you. Review YouTube’s policies on what is acceptable as Fair Use.

What about music?

If you use music in your video, be sure to include documentation of the source and legal rights in your application form. Learn about YouTube’s copyright policies and find out how to get free music.

Do you have any tips?


  • Review the provided topic information carefully! If your video contains inaccurate information, it will be automatically disqualified. Email if you have questions.
  • Keep your video focused on the topic you choose.
  • Be sure to include a clear call to action.
  • Give your video a descriptive and attention-grabbing title. Think about what it would be called if it was showing in a theater.
  • Be creative! Choose a topic that’s meaningful to you and think about unique ways to tell your story.
What is the new BIPOC filmmaker category?

The River Starts Here campaign is committed to the inclusion of diverse voices to work towards equitable environmental outcomes for all community members.  We recognize that we must create space for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) amplify their voices to promote and engage in an ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion dialogue that will lead to meaningful change.  Furthermore, we acknowledge that many causes of environmental degradation have disproportionately impacted BIPOC communities and that Portland-Vancouver Metro region is built on the traditional lands of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other tribes.  As such, we have created a student BIPOC filmmaker category as part of this effort.


Application deadline for entry is May 20, 2021!

Previous Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the first annual student video contest! Check out the playlist of the 6 winners and honorable mentions.