Indiana is full of natural beauty — but sometimes you see something extra special that makes you stop and reflect. That’s what happened to each of the winning photographers in this year’s Nature and Farm Photo Contest.
The contest organizers are hoping that everyone who sees the winning photos will have that “aha” moment. The 13 Best in Show photos will be on display at Art on the Square Gallery in downtown Greensburg from Feb. 14-28. About 25 additional winners will be part of an online exhibit.
The exhibit includes a photo by Batesville resident Lucas Wilson, who was a winner in the youth category. “Taking photos makes me certainly stop and appreciate the landscape that makes Indiana home,” says the Batesville High School senior. “The crystal-clear creeks, stunning fall colors, simple farms and the people who live there all make Hoosier country feel welcoming and beautiful every time I see it captured on camera.”
Oak Heritage Conservancy executive director Liz Brownlee says, “We hope the exhibit inspires people to be proud to live in Indiana. There’s so much good here that connects us all, and so much work protecting and encouraging. The point of the exhibit is to get people talking about what makes Indiana worth caring about.”
Three other photos by area residents were selected, including one created by Tobie Benefiel, also in the youth category. His photo is a contrast of blue skies and the red of fall foliage.
Greensburg resident Emiline Ditty also won in the youth category. Her shot is a close-up of raindrops on a flower. “I just like to capture nature’s simple beauty,” she says. “Indiana has a lot to offer.”
Finally, Osgood resident Erin Schuerman’s photo was selected as one of the Best in Show, and will be on displayed at the exhibit at Art on the Square Gallery.
Oak Heritage collaborates with George Rogers Clark Land Trust to host the annual contest and exhibit. Both groups protect land in southern Indiana. OHC focuses on natural areas, like old growth forests, wetlands and pollinator habitat. Leaders open its 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.
“We think it’s important to protect what makes Indiana special, so that future generations can enjoy towering oak trees and frogs calling and thriving farms.”
The winning photos in the exhibit certainly highlight what’s beautiful about Indiana. All of the photos had to be taken in Indiana by amateurs.
The exhibit is open during Art on the Square Gallery’s normal hours – and the gallery will host an opening on Friday, Feb. 14, from 4-7 p.m. with wine and finger foods. The opening will double as a social where nature lovers can come to learn more about Oak Heritage Conservancy, see the photos and spend time with other conservationists.
For residents who cannot make it to Art on the Square to see the photos, about 40 winning photos are featured online at https://oakheritageconservancy.org/get-involved/photoexhibit/.
Brownlee suggests taking a look at the photos, then voting for a Grand Prize Winner, who will receive a one-year membership to Oak Heritage Conservancy. Anyone can become a member, and support land conservation in southeast Indiana.
“Last year, over 900 people voted for a winner. It was so encouraging to have that many people looking at the photos and thinking about conservation in Indiana.”
The photos will be headed to North Vernon next, as part of a travelling exhibit. Stops include coffee shops, breweries, community art spaces and community events. To hear about the upcoming exhibits, follow Oak Heritage Conservancy on Facebook and Instagram.