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Get Ready for Spring– and our Habitat at Home Photo Contest!

“Bluebird of Happiness” by Amy Cecilia LoPresti Owens

It’s almost time for our second annual Habitat at Home Photo Contest!

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 wild beauty 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 almost time to show us what you’re doing and what you see out there! As you plan your spring gardens, how wild can you get?

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 rose@conservingcarolina.org 

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

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. We’ll be giving shout-outs to entries that are great examples of any of these criteria:

  • Outstanding 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. 
  • Extraordinary Wildlife: Capture a visit from an animal that is rare, unusual, or impressive. 
  • Outstanding Video Entry: 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.

Entries from the 2020 Habitat at Home Photo Contest

Thank You!

Thank you for improving wildlife habitat where you live and for inspiring others to do the same! We can’t wait to see your entries once the contest starts on Apr. 1. In the meantime, you can start dreaming of garden projects, growing native plants, and creating space that wildlife are going to love.

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