Oakland County residents will soon be strolling over Mandy Chu’s conservation-focused artwork, and she couldn’t be happier. The Troy Athens High School graduate won first place out of 74 entries in the Preserve MI Waters: Stormwater Manhole Cover Art Contest for local high school and college students. His design, “Mallards in Flight,” will be cast into 50 metal storm sewer covers installed this summer across the county to draw attention to water resources.
“I hope that when people see my artwork, they will bring back their own fond memories of Michigan’s waters and wildlife, while noting the importance of acting responsibly to avoid harm to both,” she said.
Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash presented Chu with his award, including a $1,000 scholarship provided by the nonprofit Pure Oakland Water, at a meeting in April of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.
“One of our missions for this competition is to help our communities understand that the water that enters our storm drains goes directly to our freshwater resources, without treatment, which makes it vitally important that we keep our sewers free of pollutants and debris,” Nash said. .
The county also sponsors the annual Kids’ Clean Water Calendar competition for fourth and fifth graders. For the second year in a row, fifth grader Aditya Yogesh from Troy’s Barnard Elementary School won the competition. Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Director Liesl Clark spotlighted Yogesh and his artwork in a video announcing Michigan Great Lakes and Freshwater Week , from June 4 to 12.
Chu graduates in June and plans to attend the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor to pursue a major in biology, health, and society. She enjoys drawing and ceramics, as well as other favorite hobbies including reading, journaling, and spending time outdoors with friends. She answered a few questions for MI Environment:
What inspired your art for the competition? When I think of the wildlife I see most around local ponds and lakes in Oakland County, ducks – especially mallards – are the first creatures that come to mind. I wanted to highlight the simple yet graceful design of these animals that we commonly see but don’t always take the time to fully appreciate.
Why is Michigan’s water conservation message important to you? Especially since Michigan contains some of the largest freshwater lakes in the nation, it is essential to prevent pollution and protect our waters in an effort to save energy, in addition to maintaining our ecosystems to for future generations to enjoy and for wildlife to thrive.
What do you find special about a favorite Michigan nature area or outdoor activity? I have fond memories of kayaking the lakes of Michigan with my family when I was little. I remember how impressed I was with the expansive waters, the vibrant variety of plants, and the many types of fish and ducks we encountered. There was something really special about being completely immersed in the natural beauty of these waters.
What would you most like people to learn or understand about Michigan’s water resources? Just that it’s necessary to make an effort to learn how we can individually help conserve water, as well as collectively hold big business and our governments accountable for their role in protecting Michigan’s water resources.
Legend: Mandy Chu, winner of the Oakland County storm drain cover design contest.