Art project shows students how drought is threatening the Great Salt Lake region

This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that brings together news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake – and what that can be done to make a difference before it’s too late. Read all of our stories at

VACATION, Utah – The Great Salt Lake is an essential resource for families here in Utah, but sometimes it’s hard to express its importance with data and statistics. A group of local teenagers hope creativity can bridge the gap and bring understanding and urgency to the issue.

“It could affect them. This would affect our air quality. We would probably lose the title of “The Biggest Snow in the World”.

Tristen Sharp, an 8e student at Wasatch Charter School in Salt Lake City learned a lot about the endangered Great Salt Lake this school year. One of his biggest worries is what might happen to Utah‘s air quality if a drier lake bed is exposed due to lower water levels.

Cameras captured footage of a storm rolling out of the lake and filling the air in Salt Lake City with dangerous dust. It’s an image Sharp won’t soon forget.

Sharp, along with his classmates, was assigned to research and study the Great Salt Lake to complete their 8th grade. They spent weeks learning the importance of the lake, its impact on multiple industries, and why conservation is essential.

In addition to a 5-10 page essay on the issue, students also created artwork to illustrate the issue or highlight the beauty of the lake.

Using everything from paints and crayons to yarn and even natural elements from the lake itself, students learned to connect and appreciate this vital resource.

“He can be very beautiful, even though he’s endangered,” said Aliyah Knighton, a Wasatch 8e grader.

Teacher Heidrun Kubiessa said the mission gave students the chance to embrace the lake and all it does for Utah. “This landmark, the Great Salt Lake, being in jeopardy is a great opportunity for them to apply their knowledge, to engage in something relevant.”

Student artwork will be on display at the Salt Lake City Public Library from June 1 to August 20, 2022.

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