Winners of Third Annual Nature & Farm Photo Contest Show that Hoosiers Value Indiana’s Natural Beauty
“The pictures remind us of the beauty that surrounds us.”
“They show the beauty that our state has to offer.”
“No other place has same landscape”
“We are still rural.”
“Southern Indiana is a special place where the land is not spoiled by urban sprawl and over-development.”
“This is what home looks like.”
…Read More about Hoosiers’ pride of place after you look at the photos.
These were just a few of the quotes from the 1,068 people who voted for a Grand Prize Winner in Oak Heritage Conservancy’s annual Nature and Farm Photo Contest.
This year’s entries showed a heron flying low over a lake, the Milky Way over the forest, a man kayaking a quiet stream, farmers harvesting their crops, a snake under a rock, butterflies on wildflowers, and other common – but beautiful – sites from around Indiana.
Steve McClanhan, of North Vernon, won the contest with his photo of a fern at Versailles State Park.
“I love taking photos here in Indiana. We have such a wide variety of places to go for pictures. I’ve explored most of Indiana from top to bottom taking pictures everywhere I go. It is so easy to find a spot and shoot. Whether you like walking trails and getting pictures, driving the back roads and shooting the fields, or even going north and shooting some on the dunes, Indiana has it.”
The photos were displayed at community events over the winter, and in an online exhibit. When people voted at the photo exhibits, their task was to pick the best photo from this year’s entries, but first, they had to answer a few questions.
“We asked people if the photos made them feel proud to live in Indiana,” said Liz Brownlee, executive director of Oak Heritage.
“We want people to think about what’s beautiful around them – what they value, and what they want to protect.”
Oak Heritage protects natural areas, like forests and wetlands, for the public to visit and enjoy. They have nature preserves with hiking trails and host nature events, like butterfly walks and scavenger hunts, throughout southeast Indiana. Their partner on the photo contest, George Rogers Clark Land Trust, helps farmers protect their land as working farmland.
Over 1,000 votes poured in for this year’s Grand Prize winner.
Over 95% of people said the photos made them feel proud to live in Indiana. One of the people who answered “No” said, “No not proud, grateful.”
When they drive around southern Indiana, 98% said they like seeing the fields, forests, and wetlands that are a part of small family farms.
More than 370 million acres of farmland – that’s over 40% – will change hands in the next ten years, according to the American Farmland Trust. That’s because the average American farmer is nearing retirement. The photo contest survey asked:
“Our land trusts want to protect land as working farms, wetlands, forests, and natural areas. Do you think this is a priority for our community?”
Over 90% of people said, “Yes, this is a priority.”
“Hoosiers value that our state is agricultural, and that our farms are diverse. They like seeing forests and ponds and wetlands and meadows,” says Brownlee.
“Our group can help protect this diverse, beautiful landscape that we call home. Together with our members, we are working hard to ensure that your grandkids and their grandkids will get to experience Indiana as a rural, natural place.”
About 70% of the people who voted in the contest said they have visited a farm in the last six months – many were their own families’ farms, or nearby farm businesses, like pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, and wineries.
Over 1,000 people voted for the Grand Prize winner of the photo contest. Steve McClanahan, of North Vernon, won with his photo of a fern dripping with rain.
McClanahan took the winning photo in Versailles State Park.
“I do not get to go to Versailles very often. It was actually my mom’s idea to go hiking that day and I picked Versailles. I remember telling my girlfriend I would love to get a rain drop picture on some type of plant before I went hiking. After hiking for an hour I came across that spot where I took that picture and I probably took 100 photos different angles and lighting to get it perfect. It’s a photo to remember for sure.”
McClanahan’s prize is a one-year membership to Oak Heritage Conservancy.
“Our members fuel conservation in southeast Indiana. They help create nature preserves, hiking trails, and nature programs for kids. Steve is joining a growing community of nature-lovers,” says Brownlee.
Oak Heritage Conservancy has fifteen nature preserves in southeast Indiana. The preserves are free and open for the public to hike on and explore. George Rogers Clarks helps farmers protect their land from development and subdivision. Learn more at https://www.grclt.org/.
The photo contest is made possible by the Indiana Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.