/ Habitat at Home,

Contest: Habitat at Home 2020!

Update: The Habitat at Home photo contest is now an annual event. Here’s where to find information on the 2021 photo contest.

Stuck at home? With so many parks and trails closed, you might feel cut off from nature… or you might not. What if your home felt like nature too, full of living things and wild beauty?

This time of staying home gives us the opportunity to turn our attention to a vital habitat restoration project: our homes.

That’s why, this spring, we’re holding a Habitat at Home contest! Both kids and adults can enter. Share photos or videos that show how you’re enhancing habitat. Or share photos or videos that show wild animals (from pollinators on up) where you live.

You can win some garden-themed prizes. More importantly, you’ll inspire people and help restore our natural world!

A monarch butterfly gathers nectar. Photo by Kelly Holland.

Contest Guidelines

This is a contest for all ages—kids and adults. You don’t have to be a professional photographer. You don’t have to be an expert naturalist. You could have a lot of land or just a balcony. There are a few criteria and if you meet them, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win prizes (see details below). There is also a voters’ choice award for the entry that get the most votes on social media. Informally but just as fun, there will be online shout-outs for the following:

  • Beautiful photography
  • Inspiring habitat projects 
  • Creative use of a small space
  • Outstanding youth entries

See the full contest rules below.


People can help box turtles by helping them cross the road–but not taking them home as pets!

Is Your Home Nature’s Best Hope?

Wild animals need more places to live—beyond nature preserves. In his new book, “Nature’s Best Hope,” Doug Tallamy writes, “[W]e need to practice conservation in areas outside our parks as well as inside them. And this means we need to practice conservation where we live, where we work, and where we farm.”

And it’s fun! Like Henderson County milkweed grower Kim Bailey says: “You’re asking people to do something that helps the environment but you’re also giving them a way to experience joy and beauty… It’s an empowering thing and it’s a joyful thing.

You might already know how rewarding it is to see more living things come share your space. More birds, more butterflies, more bees. Or maybe you’re seeing more foxes, bears, or bobcats (like in this critter cam video.)

This spring—the stay-home spring of 2020—lets invite more nature to our homes.

This frog found a perch on a nesting box in the garden at our Hendersonville office. It might have been a good place to catch bugs.

How to Enter

It’s easy to enter. Here are the rules:

  • Post a photo or video of your home habitat on Facebook or Instagram, using the hashtag #HabitatAtHome2020.
  • You must make your post public so we can see it and others can too.
  • You must post your photos before May 15, 2020.
  • You can share as many photos or videos as you like. However, a maximum of three entries per person will be entered in the drawing for prizes.
  • Parents may submit entries on behalf of their children.
  • Social media entries are preferred. If you’re not on social media, you can email your submission to [email protected] with #habitatathome2020 in the subject line. We may share your entry on our social media channels. 
  • Conserving Carolina staff, board, and AmeriCorps members may share photos or videos in the contest but are not eligible to win the prizes.
  • To win prizes, you must be a resident of Western North Carolina or Upstate South Carolina.
  • Conserving Carolina may share your photo or video online, with credit to you as the creator.

Prize Drawing and Voters Choice Award

The prize drawing will be held after the contest deadline on May 15, 2020. Prizes include:

  • 12 pollinator-friendly native plants of your choice from Milkweed Meadows Farm in Fruitland
  • 3 plants in 1-gallon pots donated by New Leaf Garden in Pisgah Forest
  • Coneflower plants of several different species donated by our Land Conservation Director, Tom Fanslow
  • “Bee Green” prize package of eco-friendly gear and goodies from Bee City USA – Hendersonville
  • Two coupons from Spriggly’s Beescaping: 25% of your total purchase and a free ebook.
  • Gardening gloves + a garden journal

In addition to the prize drawings, there will be a voters’ choice award for the entry with the most likes on Instagram and Facebook combined. (To increase your chances of winning, enter on both platforms.) The winner of the voters’ choice award will receive a Conserving Carolina hat and bandana.

Kim Bailey shared this photo of an emerging mason bee that formed this cocoon in her bee hotel.

What’s a Habitat at Home Project?

There are two types of images you can enter: images of wildlife at your home and/or your project to enhance wildlife habitat. So, what’s a habitat enhancement project that you can do at home? Here are some examples, including tips from our monthly Habitat at Home columns:

What Projects Don’t Count?

We should mention a few kinds of projects that are not what we’re looking for in this contest (although they can also make for a pleasant yard):

  • Non-native plants: Because native plants provide much greater habitat benefits than introduced plants, non-native plantings don’t count as Habitat at Home projects for this contest. (Here’s a good resource for finding native plants.)
  • Feeding: Bird feeders or other wildlife feeds can give animals a boost but, in this contest, we want to focus on natural sources of food. For birds, that includes berries, seedheads, and insects (which thrive on native plants.)

Thank you for restoring pollinator and wildlife habitat where you live! We can’t wait to see what your home habitat looks like.