2023 Photo Contest

“Explore the Great Outdoors”

Welcome to our Eighth Annual Photography Contest to help Hoosiers find new nature preserves, parks and agritourism sites!

Our theme this year was: Explore the Great Outdoors. We encouraged amateur photographers to go outside in search of unique experiences where nature feels inspirational. More than 200 images were submitted via our online portal. And after an exhaustive review process our Judges selected 20 Best of Show photographs that were displayed at various venues across southeastern Indiana. During the months of February and March 2024 well over 500 individuals voted for their favorite photos. And the winners are…

The 2023 Grand Prize Winners!

It is with a heavy heart, but also a deep appreciation of his talent, that we announce Carson Hughes’ photograph, “A beautiful sunrise over the Busching Covered Bridge” was the overwhelming Grand Prize winner in the Youth Division.  Oak Heritage Conservancy expresses its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and entire community on Carson’s recent passing.  While we did not know Carson personally, his striking photography inspires us to keep working diligently to preserve nature in southeast Indiana.

Congratulations to Sheena Grim for her Grand Prize-winning photograph in the Adult Division – “Foggy morning along the Ohio River”!

Thank you to the following businesses for hosting our traveling exhibits:

Spire Book & Coffee Co. – 308 Third Street Aurora, IN 47001

Amack’s Well – 103 E George Street, Batesville, IN 47006

Emily’s Brew Coffee Co. – 107 North Washington Street, Versailles, IN 47042

Perceptions Yoga, Mindfulness and Art – South Hwy 3/139 Jackson Street Vernon, IN 47265

Analog Coffee – 329 W Main Street, Madison, IN 47250

Ivy Tech Madison Campus – 590 Ivy Tech Drive Madison, IN 47250

2023 Best of Show!

Youth Division

Adult Division

These “Best of Show” photographers will receive their mounted photo as a prize. Check back here in late March to see who our Grand Prize Winners are.

About the Photo Contest

Once again, we offered kid-friendly age categories.  Kids 18 and under entered the youth contest. Folks 19 and older entered the adult contest.  Our theme categories were:

– Barns, crops, and livestock
– Forests, creeks, and wetlands
– Wildlife and wildflowers (or other flora)
– People in nature
– Architecture in nature (how architecture and nature have been combined)

The photo contest is made possible in part by The Madison Area Arts Alliance, the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The contest and exhibit are a partnership with Oak Heritage Conservancy (we create nature preserves in southeast Indiana) and George Rogers Clark Land Trust (they’re a community group that focuses on protecting working farmland in southern Indiana). Many thanks to the Boards of both groups for all their hard work making this contest and exhibit a reality!

If you have a question about this year’s contest, email [email protected]

Recap of 2022’s Photo Contest-

Our 2022 Photography Contest’s theme was: Nature’s Magical Moments. And we had more than 350 individual photos submitted! Thank you to everyone who took the time to share your images of Nature’s Magical Moments.

Congratulations to our 2022 Grand Prize Winners!

Youth Division Winning Photo by Carson Hughes

Carson Hughes – Youth Division Grand Prize Winner

“I would have to say the fog and the “mood” of the photo caught my attention the most. I was by myself, and I took the photo because I love double-crested cormorants and spending time with them. I go to my local state park every Saturday morning and go on kayak out on the lake with my camera.”

Adult Division Winning Photo by Katie Baker Sparks

Katie Baker Sparks – Adult Division Grand Prize Winner

“I crossed this historic stone bridge on Olean Rd in Ripley County every day on my way to work for years before going down to explore what it looked like from underneath. The beauty of the stone, color of the trees, and reflection in the water was stunning.”

Congratulations to our 2021 Grand Prize Winners!

Youth Division Winning photo by Seanna Peetz

Seanna Peetz – Youth Division Grand Prize Winner

“I took this photo on a rainy day. Shortly after the rain had stopped falling, I stepped outside, and something caught my eye. This butterfly, this little, tiny but hugely important butterfly, made me realize that there’s so much more to life and that by actually slowing down and examining the world around you, you can experience a once in a lifetime chance just like how I saw this butterfly.”

Adult Division Winning photo by Beverly Rivera

Beverly Rivera – Adult Division Grand Prize Winner

“I have a special fascination with eagles and look for them every day, everywhere I go! I never get tired of seeing them “in the wild” in Indiana again. I always hope for a perfect picture of an eagle and this so far has been my favorite. It helps me remember the day spent with family exploring and captures the majesty of the bald eagle!”

2020 Grand Prize Winner + Hoosiers Weigh in on Making “Earth Day Every Day”

Over 200 area residents shared their opinions in a recent survey about conservation and nature. They talked about ways they help protect the natural world every day, from the basics, like recycling and using less water, to projects like planting more native trees and shrubs around their home, adding native wildflowers to their flower beds, supporting conservation with their votes, or installing solar panels.

Grand Prize Winning photo by Joshua Chastain. Joshua is a middle school student who wants to be a wildlife biologist when he grows up.

“Everyone can do something to help care for the earth each day.”

“I want a better earth for future generations.”

The survey was part of Oak Heritage Conservancy’s annual Nature and Farm Photo Contest. While voting for a grand prize winner, residents also weighed in with their thoughts about the year’s theme, “Earth Day Every Day.”

“We know this survey isn’t a complete cross section of Indiana, but we were still encouraged by how many Hoosiers told us they value protecting natural areas and open spaces like small family farms,” says Liz Brownlee, Executive Director of Oak Heritage. The nonprofit protects natural areas across southeast Indiana, and opens them to hikers, birdwatchers, and other visitors. Their partners on the project, George Rogers Clark Land Trust, protect working farmland.

Each year, the two groups host a Nature and Farm Photo Contest to get Hoosiers thinking about how natural areas and farms contribute to the beauty and character of Indiana. This year, they added a “Youth” category – and the Grand Prize Winner was actually a youth entry. Joshua Chastain, of Westport, is entering seventh grade this Fall. His photo earned the top spot out of 27 photos featured in the online exhibit .

Joshua wants to be a wildlife biologist when he grows up. He loves wildlife of all sorts – especially turtles. His winning photo was a close up of a turtle native to Indiana, a red-eared slider. Joshua takes the “Earth Day Every Day” pledge to heart.

“I save turtles and crawdads when I see them on the road by picking them up and moving them the direction they are going. I also catch insects, fish, and other creatures and study them.  Then I release them.”

Joshua’s mom, Jennifer Chastain, said “I am amazed at Joshua’s love of nature and his natural gift with spotting unusual and rare wildlife and plants.  He also has an uncanny knack for handling insects, frogs, toads, and other animals without harming them.   My husband, Derek, teaches Biology and has encouraged him to explore nature.  There are a lot of other adults and teachers in Joshua’s life that encourage him to learn about and love nature also.” 

Oak Heritage Conservancy protects the special places that make southeast Indiana unique – and we host programs that get people outside in nature.

Click to learn more about the natural areas we’ve protected forever, for you to enjoy or to learn about our upcoming events in nature. Or better yet – get involved with our conservation work. You can help protect the special places in southeast Indiana.

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. Many thanks to the these groups for making the arts come alive in southeast Indiana.