Arts & Humanities

Utah Clean Air Marketing Contest Winners Announced at Community Art Day

"Idling Kills so Quidditch!" Entry by Alivia P. of Ridgeline High School.

Winners of the 2023 Utah High School Clean Air Marketing Contest will be announced at Utah State University’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art Community Art Day on Saturday, Feb. 11.

Clean air public service announcements created by this year’s 60 finalists will be displayed at the museum as part of the event. After the awards ceremony, people of all ages can create their own artwork using recycled materials.

The Utah High School Clean Air Marketing Contest was created in 2015 by USU professors Roslynn Brain McCann of USU Extension Sustainability and Edwin Stafford of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. PSAs designed by teens combine art, science and savvy marketing to encourage Utahns to help keep the air healthy through carpooling, using alternative transportation, limiting idling and trip chaining (completing multiple errands at a time to limit unnecessary driving). The messaging and artwork are often provocative, funny, edgy and tied to teen pop culture. The winning PSAs will be displayed for educational outreach across the state and on social media.

The contest is intended to raise Utahns’ awareness of air quality issues by helping youth who are learning to drive understand the implications their new driving privilege can have on air pollution. It also helps them engage in ways to preserve air quality, especially during Utah’s polluted winter inversion season.

Stafford and McCann’s research finds that for many participants, the contest is the only formal education they receive about local air pollution. As they talk about local air pollution with their families and friends, they then become air quality influencers in their own local networks.

McCann said that contestants report becoming more committed to clean air actions, such as refraining from idling, engaging in carpooling, and trip chaining, and that parents also report being influenced by their teens to engage in clean air actions.

“Our research shows that the contest is having an impact beyond the teens in educating Utahns about how to help keep the air healthy,” she said.

Over 800 teens from Utah and southern Idaho participated in the 2023 contest. Participating high schools include Logan, Ridgeline, Fast Forward, Carbon, Whitehorse (Montezuma Creek), Westside, Preston, Grand County (Moab) and Granger (West Valley City).

“The entries seem to get better and more ingenious every year,” Stafford said. “Creative competitions are important vehicles for educating youth as they spark the joy of learning and self-discovery that you just can’t replicate in the classroom.”

Approximately $6,000 in cash and gift cards will be awarded, all donated by local businesses, organizations, and individuals.

The free event begins at 10:30 a.m. and includes refreshments. With the help of Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art’s education staff, those participating in the art activity after the awards will make a recycled assemblage of artwork inspired by the museum’s current exhibition, “The Squares and the Beats,” the 1960s generation artists. The term assemblage refers to how these artists assemble their work using unconventional materials such as debris and other found materials.

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"Go Green, Breathe Clean." Entry by Ingrid P. of Grand County High School

"Bigfoot Walks, Why Shouldn't You?" Entry by Pepper J. of Preston High School.


Roslynn McCann
Sustainable Communities Specialist
Environment & Society Dept., USU Extension


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