/ Habitat at Home,

Enter our Habitat at Home Photo Contest!

“Bluebird of Happiness” by Amy Cecilia LoPresti Owens

Show us how wild it is where you live!

When you step outside your door, do you feel like you’re stepping into nature? You are—because we’re always in nature. At the same time, there’s a lot we can do to restore the natural world around us. We can make the spaces where we live more alive, abundant, thriving, and diverse. And it’s important! Wild critters need more places to live. And humans need more connection to nature in our day-to-day lives.

That’s why Conserving Carolina offers our Habitat at Home campaign, with tips on how you can restore natural habitat close to home. That includes everything from growing butterfly gardens, to keeping your stream healthy, to planting native trees, to creating a pocket meadow.

Now it’s time to show us what you’re doing and what you see out there! Here’s how to enter the contest.

Lauren Sheperd photographed this bobcat from her deck in Leicester.

How to Enter the 2021 Habitat at Home Photo Contest

You can submit photos or videos. To be eligible for prizes and shout-outs, your entry: 

  • Must be taken in 2021
  • Must be submitted between Apr. 1 – May 15, 2021
  • Must feature one or more of these subjects: 
    • Native plants  
    • Projects to improve wildlife habitat where you live
    • Wildlife that you see at or near your home. Wildlife includes both small and large animals, from bugs to bears. 
  • Must be taken at your home or in your your neighborhood 
  • Must be taken in one of these counties: 
    • In NC: Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Polk, Rutherford, or Transylvania Counties 
    • In SC: Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, or Spartanburg Counties

To enter, submit your photo or video on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #habitatathome2021. You must make it a public post. 

If you are not on social media, you may submit contest entries by emailing them to [email protected] 

When you post, please share where the photo or video was taken. 

Youth entries are encouraged.

Conserving Carolina’s staff, board, and AmeriCorps members and their immediate family may share photos in the contest but are not eligible to win prizes. 

You may enter as many times as you like between April 1 and May 15.  

Conserving Carolina may share your photo or video in connection with the contest, with credit to you as the creator.

Swallowtail on a mountain laurel. Photo by Wally Hughes.

Why Native Plants?

Plants introduced from other parts of the world are common in many gardens—but native plants provide much better wildlife habitat. That’s because many insect species are highly specialized. Often, their larvae will only feed on specific host plants that are native to this area. And our entire food web depends on insects! If you grow plants that support more insects, you’ll also be supporting larger wildlife like birds, fish, mammals, and amphibians. Here’s a tool to help you find native plants where you live. 

How to Win

1. Earn Shout Outs

Conserving Carolina will be recognizing outstanding entries with online shout-outs throughout the contest period. You don’t have to be a world-class photographer to earn a shout-out. Our staff will be giving shout-outs to entries that impress us as:

  • Great Habitat at Home projects: Show us what you’re doing to improve habitat where you live. This can include before-and-after pictures; “before” pics may be taken prior to the contest timeframe. 
  • Special Wildlife Encounters: Capture a visit from an animal that is rare, beautiful, unusual, or impressive. 
  • Outstanding Video Entries: Show us wildlife in action. 
  • Outstanding Youth Entries: Remarkable photos or videos by children or teenagers may earn a shout out. Please let us know if your photo or video should be considered a youth entry.    

Shout-outs don’t come with prizes—just props. We’ll share your awesome photo or video on our social media channels, with credit to you as the photographer.  

Conserving Carolina staff and AmeriCorps members will decide which entries merit a shout-out. These decisions are separate from the selection of contest finalists made by our panel of outside judges. 

2. Win Prizes

After the contest deadline of May 15, a panel of judges, including esteemed photographers and expert habitat gardeners, will select five finalists. Finalists will be chosen based on these criteria:

  • Striking subject matter in keeping with the theme of “Habitat at Home” 
  • Artistic merit 

After the finalists are announced, there will be a week of online voting. All finalists will receive garden-themed prizes, donated by local businesses. The winner of the online voting will be the grand prize winner.

The grand prize is a professional landscape consultation. You can win a two-hour consultation donated by noted local landscape architect, Mark Byington of Byington Landscape Architects, known for his emphasis on sustainable landscapes. Mark will meet with you to discuss possible solutions for any site related issues at your home or another place that you are involved with, such as a school, church, community garden, or neighborhood green space.

All finalists will also win one of the following prizes:

Thank you to all of the local businesses who donated these contest prizes!

Entries from the 2020 Habitat at Home Photo Contest

Meet Our Expert Judges

We are very grateful to our expert judges, who will choose the contest finalists.

  • Kevin Adams is a renowned photographer and photography teacher. He is the author of North Carolina Waterfalls and founder of the nonprofit, Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina.  
  • Kim Bailey is an environmental educator, the coordinator of Bee City USA – Hendersonville, and the owner of Milkweed Meadows Farm. 
  • Bill Imhof is an award-winning photographer who uses his talents to support nonprofits including Conserving Carolina and The Christian Appalachian Project. 
  • Annie Martin, known as Mossin’ Annie, is a WNC native, nationally-recognized moss landscaping expert and owner of Mountain Moss Enterprises, with background experience as a professional photographer for the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Deni McIntyre is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer. She and her husband, Will McIntyre, founded Will & Deni Media and created the Emmy-nominated PBS series, David Holt’s State of Music. 

Thank You!

Thank you for improving wildlife habitat where you live and for inspiring others to do the same! We are so excited to see the beautiful and wondrous things happening at your place.

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