The first entry to the CIty Nature Art Challenge is by Bridget C., a first-grader at the King Open School.

Green Cambridge and Cambridge Local First are partnering to connect local public school students with city habitats through a Cambridge City Nature Art Challenge.

The Cambridge challenge picks up where the Boston Area City Nature Challenge leaves off: The annual citizen science project, which contributes to research-quality data on living organisms in and near the metro area, wrapped up with 321 species spotted in Greater Boston; now local students are asked to choose one and recreate it with a drawing, painting, sculpture or sidewalk chalking, and older grades get the option of comic strip, poster or infographic formats.

The deadline for entries is June 9.

Students in Cambridge Public Schools from kindergarten through Grade 8 are eligible to enter. Younger students with winning entries will get a set of art supplies; from Grade 3 up, winning entries will earn gift cards to businesses that are members of Cambridge Local First. Some local business members of the organization will display winning entries in storefront windows.

Green Cambridge has run an arts-based environmental education program for local children since 2012, with young participants in Cambridge Wildlife Arts – formerly the Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project – marching in costume (and sometimes with giant puppets) in the annual Honk! Parade. Cambridge Wildlife Arts’ plans for a fifth annual Cambridge Fly, Buzz, and Honk! Festival in July have been suspended until public health regulations clear the way for the festival to go forward.

Until then, kids have the Cambridge City Nature Art Challenge.

“Connecting people of all ages to their environment is more important than ever, and the outdoor learning that would normally happen in Cambridge Public Schools this spring is understandably impossible. The art challenge aims to keep kids in touch with a sense of wonder about local species here in our city,” said Steven Nutter, Green Cambridge’s executive director.

The local economy and environmental sustainability movements dovetail neatly, said Theodora Skeadas, executive director of Cambridge Local First, because Local, community-serving businesses foster healthier environments by being people-sized. “They typically consume less land, carry more locally made products, locate closer to residents and thereby create less traffic and air pollution,” she said.

Guidelines for the Cambridge City Nature Art Challenge are online at greencambridge.org/artchallenge.


This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.