Skip to content



The dunes at our beach are fragile and need our protection!

Dune Sign

Student Art Contest



Contest deadline:

March 7, 2022

Massachusetts Students Grades K - 12 are invited to participate in the Dune Sign Art Contest.

Winning artwork will be used on signs at local beaches to encourage people to use designated paths and stay off the dunes.  Use your imagination!

Help us name this sign

Vote below. Choose your favorite slogan or suggest one!



Download the contest flyer and background information

Contest Rules and Requirements

  • All work submitted for this contest must be created by the student and entirely original.
  • Be sure that any dune vegetation depicted in artwork is native to the Massachusetts coast.
  • Art must be 11" wide x 6.5" high. (We recommend using an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper and drawing 1" margins on the left and right sides in landscape view.)
  • White, non-glossy paper is recommended — please be careful in scanning or photographing art to avoid glare.
  • Artwork should contain no text or names.
  • Entries should be submitted via the Google form as high resolution digital images (at least 300 dpi). Preferred formats are JPG or TIF but PDF will also be accepted.
  • Submit your artwork via the Google form. Please fill in all the required information and attach your artwork. Parents must approve the entry for all students under age 18.
  • One entry per student.
  • Deadline: March 7, 2020

<Back to top>


Prizes will be given in each of the following divisions:

  • Elementary School — Grades K-4
  • Middle School — Grades 5-8
  • High School — Grades 9-12

1st Place: $50 Amazon gift card and a certificate. Artwork will be used on sign.

2nd Place:  $30 Amazon gift card and a certificate. Artwork may be used on sign.

3rd Place:  $15 Amazon gift card and a certificate. Artwork may be used on sign.

4th-6th Places: "Honorary Mention" certificate

Please note:

  • Additional prizes may be awarded.
  • Winning artwork will also be shared on the Woods Hole Sea Grant and Barnstable County websites and social media (including, but not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). WHSG and co-sponsors will have unrestricted use of all submitted artwork.
  • By submitting your artwork to this contest, you are giving the contest sponsors permission to use the image for this and other purposes, such as websites, social media, and publications of the sponsoring organizations.
  • Credit for students will include first name, last initial, grade, and school.

<Back to top>


(Download as PDF)

Why are frontal coastal dunes so important?


  • Dunes protect landward areas by acting as a barrier to storm surge and flooding
  • Dunes provide significant wildlife habitat
  • Dunes provide a reservoir of sand that nourishes eroding beaches and feeds nearshore sand bars during storms

The beneficial functions of coastal dunes result from their ability to move,change shape, and supply a reservoir of sand to the beach during coastal storms. Sand dunes provide unique wildlife habitat. Dunes also act as a barrier to storm surges and flooding, protecting landward development and limiting storm wave effects on coastal resources. During storms, coastal dunes erode, nourishing beaches and nearshore sand bars. Sand bars, beaches and dunes interact with each other, exchanging sand while changing form and shape — an interaction that dissipates storm wave energy. As the storm diminishes and waves become less steep, nearshore sand bars migrate landward and weld onto the beach. Finer-grained sand is then wind-blown back into the dune area to naturally rebuild the dunes.

Dune growth
Beach grasses help to hold the sand dunes together and prevent too much sand from being washed away and eroding the dune. Beach grasses spread out roots and rhizomes, special roots that can grow both downward and sideways in the dune, to make up a network that anchors the dune. The dense root system (which runs deep and anchors the plant in place) and the fast-growing rhizomes (which spread beneath the sand and sprout many new plants) allow for quick establishment. And once established, beachgrass literally catches sand—the leaves slow the speed of wind, allowing wind-blown sand to be deposited and accumulate to help build up the dune. The leaves of the beachgrass also help to stabilize the dune by sheltering underlying sand from wind and rain, while the root systems help bind the sediments. (MA CZM)

Besides major storms, one of the major causes of sand dune change is trampling by people. Walking or playing on sand dunes damages the beach grass that holds dunes together. It takes only a few footsteps to kill a beach grass plant. When the plant dies it cannot hold the sand in place. As a result, winds blow away the sand breaking down the dune. (NJSG)

Activities and resources you can do and share to learn more:

Why are Dunes Important:  Classroom lesson by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium

Dunes and Dune Grass:  Classroom lesson by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium

Coastal Dune Protection & Restoration:  Bulletin by Woods Hole Sea Grant

Sand Dunes: Information about sand dunes provided by Cape Cod’s National Seashore in MA

Beach grasses in MA overview:  This MA Office of Coastal Zone Management site has pictures of native beach grasses species (many grasses are shown so be careful you are looking at beach grass)

Eroding Beaches Activity: This 3rd grade activity allows students to see how waves can change beaches quickly

<Back to top>

Vote to Name the Sign

Our previous dune sign used the slogan: “These dunes aren’t made for walking”. What should our new sign be called?  Choose from the list below or suggest one of your own! Voting is open to all students, regardless of whether they are submitting artwork.  After selecting your favorites, click the "DONE" button to share your choices  🙂

Create your own user feedback survey