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Earth Day challenges added to photo contest voting

Earth Day challenges added to photo contest voting Earth Day challenges added to photo contest voting

Two young boys pause in the middle of the trail and crouch down. They are captivated by a bug. Erin Schuerman, of Ripley County, is one of the winning photographers in the fifth annual Nature & Farm Photo Contest.

“Every Sunday, we hike at Versailles State Park and get ice cream afterwards,” Schuerman said. “This is a photo of my boys stopping to check out one of the little critters on the path.”

She added no bugs were harmed.

“We can all take a lesson from this photo and these little ones,” said Liz Brownlee, executive director of Oak Heritage Conservancy, which owns nature preserves across southeast Indiana that are open to the public for hiking, birdwatching, and more. “We can all pause and marvel at the natural world and commit to doing our part for the planet.”

This Earth Day, April 22, Oak Heritage is inviting people to vote for a grand-prize winner in the photo contest and, when they vote, select an “Earth Day Every Day” challenge for themselves.

“The challenges are simple ways we can all help the planet and ourselves, things like planting a pollinator garden at our homes, reducing the amount of plastic we use and adding more local food to your diet,” Brownlee said. “We have tips to help people with each of the Earth Day Every Day Challenges, so that it’s easy and fun to do your part for the planet.

“And one of the challenges is self-serving,” she said. “This Earth Day, we’re challenging people to support nature in southeast Indiana. We invite you to join Oak Heritage or another conservation group you want to support.”

Oak Heritage collaborates with George Rogers Clark Land Trust to host the annual photo contest and exhibit. Both groups protect land in Southern Indiana. Oak Heritage focuses on conserving natural areas, like old growth forests, wetlands and pollinator habitat. They open their properties to the public to visit. GRCLT protects working farmland, especially farms with the best soils. Both groups conserve land forever, so the land will always be habitat or farmland and can never be developed.

“Our members help protect special natural areas, add trails to our preserves and host programs that get kids outside in nature,” Brownlee said. “And folks who support George Rogers Clark protect working farmland. So, joining is a super way to celebrate Earth Day.”

Amateur photographers from Southern Indiana entered photos inspired by the “Earth Day Every Day” theme. Judges narrowed the field to the top photos, which are part of an online display. It’s tough to pick a winner because these photos capture the beauty Indiana has to offer. Visitors will see sweeping views of the night sky and foggy morning on wetlands. There are also crisp, up close photos of owls, native bees and wildflowers.

This year’s exhibit includes two photos from local resident Angela Eveslage of Ramsey. One photo shows a ruby-throated hummingbird, mid-flight; the other shows a trio of bluebirds, checking out a bluebird nest box.

“As a first sign of spring, the bluebirds were checking out the bird box that is placed on our fence,” Eveslage said. “The bluebirds at our farm are very prolific; they raise two to three broods a year.”

Eveslage hopes people will use Earth Day as an excuse to celebrate nature and commit to an Earth Day Every Day challenge.

“Nature provides us all with so many wonderful things,” she said. “Beautiful parks, birds, animals, delicious food and shelter. It is our obligation to the future to maintain the delicate balance necessary to sustain life on this planet.”

To see Eveslage’s photos and the rest of the online exhibit, go to www.oakheritageconservancy.org/get-involved/photoexhibit/. Look through the photos, vote for a grand-prize winner and select an Earth Day Every Day Challenge.

“Last year, over 1,200 people voted,” Brownlee said. “We hope to break that record and get lots of folks doing the Earth Day Every Day challenges.”

The top 12 photos will receive a professionally mounted print of their photo. The grand-prize winner will also receive a one-year membership to Oak Heritage Conservancy.

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

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