Student Video Contest

The River Starts Here announced the winners of the second annual Student Video Contest in 2021. The contest unleashed the creativity and highlighted the leadership of local youth in sharing how every person can help support clean rivers and streams. 

  • Winner of the Clean Water Action Award for Active Transportation: Mindful Maintenance by Pauline Petersen, Lakeridge High School 
  • Winner of the Clean Water Action Award for Climate Change:  You, Doing Your Part by Maggie Sandberg, Summit Learning Charter School 
  • Winner of the Clean Water Action Award for Leave No Trace: Don’t Litter Be Better by Liliana Jacobsen, Homeschool 
  • Winner for Best BIPOC FilmmakerGrounding Waters with K by K (Kingston) Bonneau, Harriet Tubman Middle School 
  • Winner of People’s Choice Award: Keep Our Rivers Clean by Shea Stephens, Grant Highschool 

Application Details (Closed Until 2022)

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 of the topics below)
  • 🥇 People’s Choice (overall favorite based on social media engagement. Choose from any of the topics below)


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.
  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.


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 amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to promote and engage in an ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion dialogue that will lead to meaningful change and equitable outcomes for all community members.  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.

Can my video be bilingual?

Students are welcome to feature their cultural native language as voice or subtitle and to use English as the alternate.