Tag Archives: CONTEST

Art and Photo Contests

Calling all shutterbugs and artists!

Parks are one of the best places to capture the natural beauty of the world around us. There really is no better source of inspiration to bring out the photographer and artist in all of us, which is why we’ve compiled this handy list of art and photo contests to make it easy to share that creativity with the rest of the world. There are plenty of opportunities to have your work proudly displayed in a gallery, stamp, magazine, calendar or online album. Don’t worry about your skill level as many of the these events are catered towards novices and non-professionals. Plus, there are several open to children so even your kids can get in on the fun!

Some of these art and photo contests are hosted by state agencies and some by non-profit organizations. However, all of them are directly related to state parks so expect to take a trip to the park to participate. Along with your camera, don’t forget to download one of our Pocket Ranger® apps on your mobile device to help you navigate through the park grounds and trails. Before you begin, take time to read through the rules and guidelines as eligibility conditions will vary.

Now it’s time to get out there and join in on the fun! Capture in a photograph or piece of art the striking beauty of wildlife, the awe-inspiring majesty of landscapes, or the simple joy of people enjoying nature.

Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest

2015 Birds Category 1st Place Winner in a photo contest  [Image: www.outdooralabama.com]

2015 Birds Category 1st Place Winner [Image: www.outdooralabama.com]

Deadline: October 31, 2015
Eligibility: Open to amateurs only, separate adult and youth divisions
Sponsor: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Website: outdooralabama.com

California State Parks Foundation Photo Contest

Deadline: Monthly & yearly winners, ongoing
Eligibility: Open to all
Sponsor: California State Parks Foundation
Website: calparks.org

Cheyenne Mountain State Park Photo Contest (Colorado)

Deadline: August 10, 2015
Eligibility: Open to all, separate adult and youth divisions
Sponsor: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Connecticut Junior Duck Stamp Competition

Deadline: March 15, 2016
Eligibility: Open to youth only
Sponsor: Connecticut Waterfowlers Association

Florida State Parks Photo Contest

May 2015 Winner [Image: www.floridastateparks.org]

May 2015 Winner [Image: www.floridastateparks.org]

Deadline: Monthly & yearly winners, ongoing
Eligibility: Open to all 13 years or older
Sponsor: Florida Department of Environmental Protection / Friends of Florida State Parks, Inc.

Cloudland Canyon State Park Annual Photo Contest (Georgia)

Deadline: December 2015
Eligibility: Open to all
Sponsor: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Georgia State Parks Instagram Contest

Deadline: Weekly winners, from June 8, 2015 to August 17, 2015
Eligibility: Open to all
Sponsor: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Wild About Kansas Photo Contest

Deadline: October 23, 2015
Eligibility: Open to all, separate adult and youth divisions
Sponsor: Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park Photography Weekend (Kentucky)

Deadline: October 16 – 18, 2015
Eligibility: Open to all
Sponsor: Kentucky State Parks

Minnesota Fish & Wildlife Habitat Stamp Contest

2015 Trout & Salmon Stamp Winner [www.dnr.state.mn.us]

2015 Trout & Salmon Stamp Winner [www.dnr.state.mn.us]

Deadline: Varies from August 14, 2015 to December 18, 2015
Eligibility: Open to Minnesota residents only
Sponsor: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

MissouriDNR Photo Contest

Deadline: August 1, 2015
Eligibility: Open to amateurs only
Sponsor: Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Missouri Snapshots Photo Contest

Deadline: October 31, 2015
Eligibility: Open to amateurs only, separate adult and youth divisions
Sponsor: Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives / Missouri Department of Natural Resources

NEBRASKAland Magazine Photo Contest

Deadline: July 31, 2015
Eligibility: Open to all, separate adult and youth divisions
Sponsor: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

50th Anniversary Photo Challenge (North Dakota)

Deadline: September 7, 2015
Eligibility: Open to all
Sponsor: North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department

50th Anniversary Roscoe’s Coloring Contest (North Dakota)

Roscoe's Coloring Contest [Image: www.parkrec.nd.gov]

Roscoe’s Coloring Contest [Image: www.parkrec.nd.gov]

Deadline: September 30, 2015
Eligibility: Open to youth only
Sponsor: North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department

Pennsylvania Waterfowl Management Stamp Design Contest

Deadline: August 31, 2015
Eligibility: Open to Pennsylvania residents only
Sponsor: Pennsylvania Game Commission
Websiteportal.state.pa.us (PDF)

Washington State Parks Foundation Photo Contest

Deadline: Monthly & yearly winners, ongoing
Eligibility: Open to all
Sponsor: Washington State Parks Foundation

Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Calendar Annual Photo Contest

2014 Calendar Winner [Image: friendswiparks.blogspot.com]

2014 Calendar Winner [Image: friendswiparks.blogspot.com]

Deadline: August 31, 2015
Eligibility: Open to all
Sponsor: Friends of Wisconsin State Parks

Buckhorn & Roche-A-Cri State Parks Annual Photo Contest (Wisconsin)

Deadline: September 30 , 2015
Eligibility: Open to all
Sponsor: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources / Friends of Buckhorn State Park / Friends of Roche-A-Cri State Park

Party like it’s 1985: Celebrate Park and Recreation Month

Since 1985, America has been celebrating the immense importance of parks and recreation every July. This month the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is celebrating their 30th annual Park and Recreation Month with a nod to the past.

Park and Recreation Month - July 2015 - Banner [Image: www.nrpa.org]

[Image: www.nrpa.org]

Parks were created to give people a place to appreciate nature, exercise, socialize and have fun—and what better way to do exactly that than with a throwback theme? So the NRPA is challenging everyone to get retro and use the power of the 80s to increase awareness of the significant impact parks and recreation areas have on our quality of life. Communities all across the country are taking up the challenge by hosting events at parks and recreation centers. Here are a select few for you to check out:

80s Skate Jam: July 11th in Palm Bay, FL

Park & Recreation Month - July 2015 - City of Palm Bay, FL - Skate Jam [Image: www.palmbayflorida.org]

[Image: www.palmbayflorida.org]

The Palm Bay Skate Jam is held once a month at Liberty Park in the east central Florida city of Palm Bay. This fun family-friendly event is free, so bring your loved ones and skate to the best hits of the 80s! It is recommended that you bring your own skates as their supply is limited.

For more information, visit their website or call 321-952-3400.

Like, Totally 80s!: July 11th in Lawrenceville, GA

Park & Recreation Month - July 2015 - Gwinnett County [Image: www.gwinnettcounty.com]

[Image: www.gwinnettcounty.com]

Celebrate Park and Recreation Month with one of the most beloved movies of all time: 1985’s Back to the Future. Enjoy 80s themed activities including games, a trivia contest, crafts, a photo booth, DJ jams, concessions, face painting, crazy 80s hair and temporary tattoos. Then grab a blanket, pack a picnic and gather the family to travel Back to the Future. It’s guaranteed fun for all ages.

For more information, visit their website or call 678-277-0900.

80s Retro Party in the Park: July 24th in Greenville, NC

Join the City of Greenville, NC to celebrate Park & Recreation Month with activities for the entire family—with a throwback flair! Come to the park dressed in retro attire that you don’t mind getting muddy and join the family jazzercise session and 80s trivia then catch an 80s movie on the big screen later in the night. There will be prizes for those dressed as their favorite 80s icon. Families are welcome to stay and camp out under the stars in the big field for a fee.

For more information, take a look at their 2015 Programs & Activities Guide or call 252-329-2489.

80s Cruise In: July 25th in Springfield, OH

Join the National Trail Parks and Recreation District in Springfield, OH as they celebrate Park & Recreation Month, 80s style. Activities include live bands, a car show, an 80s aerobic class, a life-size Pac Man, music, food and more. Come dressed to impress in leg warmers and mile-high hair!

For more information, visit their website or call 937-328-7275.

Park & Recreation Month - July 2015 - Logo [Image: www.nrpa.org]

[Image: www.nrpa.org]

This is only a small sampling, so browse through the list of Park & Recreation Month Events to find out what’s happening in your area. While you’re at the site of your choice, don’t forget to record a short 15 second video and post it to Instagram for NRPA’s Throwback Thursday Instagram Video Challenge.

Or better yet, host your own shindig! Not sure how? It’s easy!

First, find a state park near you by downloading the Pocket Ranger® app for your state. Then dust off those leg warmers and headbands, bring back the neon colors, style your hair appropriately (go big or go home), turn up your favorite synth jams, and set up the retro activity of your choice: an aerobics class, a lip sync battle, a karaoke session, a trivia contest—the possibilities are endless! If you like, you can use the resources the NRPA has provided in their toolkit to promote your event. Finally, invite friends, family, coworkers and neighbors, and have a blast rocking Park & Recreation Month in 80s style. Be sure to take advantage of all the activities and amenities the parks have to offer while you’re there, too. Check the Pocket Ranger® app you downloaded for details on fishing, boating, camping, hiking, biking and more!

So what are you waiting for? Join the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Park & Recreation Month! Not only will you be having fun and encouraging others to be active, live healthier, and connect with nature, but you’ll also be showing off how totally rad you are in the process.

Pocket Ranger® Photo Waypoint Contest: Sightsee, snap & share!

Mother Nature inspires the inner photographer in us all, and fall is packed with muses! Using your Pocket Ranger® app’s photo waypoint feature (pic + GPS coordinates), snap a shot that best captures your idea of fall—scenic overview, wildlife, outdoor activity, you name it!—and submit to Pocket Ranger® for a chance to win a $50 gift card to use on your favorite fall gear and have your photo featured on all the Pocket Ranger® apps.

Enter to win a $50 gift card!

Continue reading

Jump the Shark: Watersports Photo Contest

For anyone cooped up from autumn to spring by the school year, a demanding job, or cold weather, summer feels like delicious freedom—especially if you’re heading to the lake.  There’s nothing like the first time you take the boat out for the season, feeling the motor hum and the hull cut cleanly through the water’s mirror-like surface on a calm day.

Well, there may be something better—the feeling of that same water beneath your feet as you cut across water or the air you catch as you jump a particularly good wave.  That’s right: we’re talking about water sports.

Even the coolest of the cool guys can’t resist the water.  In the 1970s, the epitome of “cool” was a leather jacket-sporting, juke box-punching, catch phrase-spouting (“Heeeeey!”) guy named Arthur Fonzarelli—the Fonz—on Happy Days.  In a 1977 episode that will live in infamy, the Fonz saves the day by accepting a challenge to jump over a shark while waterskiing.

The phrase “jumping the shark” has since been memorialized in pop culture as the moment when a TV series begins to go downhill, especially after the writers pull a wild stunt that is grossly inconsistent with the show’s premise or tone.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate a wild stunt, especially one involving waterskiing (and waterskiing in a leather jacket, no less).  This may be the most memorable waterskiing moment in pop culture history, so in the spirit of the open water and summer, we want to celebrate your history on the water.

For this week’s contest, PocketRanger® wants you to submit a vintage or impressive photo of your watersports adventures. For instance, the Fonz jumping the shark is both vintage—1970s—and impressive (after all, he did jump over a shark).

Photos will be published on Facebook and put up to a vote. The submission with the most “likes” wins!


  • “Like” Pocket Ranger® on Facebook
  • Email your photos to info[at]parksbynature.com (Include your name, phone number, and a brief description of the picture.)
  • Get your friends to vote for your photo—the photo with the most “likes” wins!
  • Share the water fun; feel free to enter as many photos as you want.

Winner will be announced Friday, June 22, and receive cool, Pocket Ranger® gear to help kickstart the summer!

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Turkey Remix Empanadas

By now you’ve surely ransacked the fridge and emptied it of its leftover contents, while we’re still salivating mulling over your post-Thanksgiving leftovers recipes. From the day-after sweet potato pancakes to the classic Thanksgiving sandwiches for lunch, there’s been plenty to keep us busy in the way of recipes. We’ve tasted them all and, though most were delicious, Carolyn’s Turkey Remix Empanadas had us coming back for seconds, thirds… you get the picture. Here’s how to whip them up at home:

Ingredients for filling:

  • 3 cups  of shredded leftover turkey meat
  • 4 tablespoons salsa
  • 3/4 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt  and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Ingredients for dough:
  • 1 1/2 packages chilled pre-made pastry dough
  • 1 egg
  • 2 parchment lined baking sheets


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large pan over medium-high heat, stir together the turkey meat, salsa, broth and cumin.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to simmer until turkey meat is moist.

3. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly before folding in the shredded cheddar cheese.

4. On a floured surface, roll out pastry dough to 1/8 of an inch.  Cut four squares per sheet of rolled out pastry dough.

5. Add a heaping tablespoon of filling to one side of cut pastry dough leaving about half an inch from the edges. Fold over the opposite corner to make a pocket for the filling.

6. Using a fork, crimp and seal the edges of each empanada and place onto parchment lined baking sheets.

7. Beat the egg in a small container and, using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash over the empanadas.

8. Place the baking sheets into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe Contest: You Can't Fail Foil Packets

This is a keeper campground recipe for our family — it even works when small car camping or deep back country camping dictates minimal gear & cooler ingredients.

1) Foil squares
2) Fire
3) Food (even bagged jerky & canned corn works)

4) Corn
5) Potatoes (diced)
6) Onions (chopped tiny)
7) Peppers (small)
8) Seasoning: Steak, blackening, soul or cajun seasoning (like Tony’s) or Season-all (like Spike or poultry)
9) Beans, sausage, jerky or canned fish (your choice)
10) Butter or oil (this is optional if your meat provides oil)

In a foil packet, arrange your choice of these ingredients (Protein choice + Veggies + Starch + Fat). Sprinkle with seasoning. Roll up foil packet and place around fire edge/in ring. Watch it so it cooks and doesn’t burn. Depending on how large you cut your potato pieces, it will take 30 minutes to one hour to cook. Unpeel your packet and YUM! Instant camp breakfast, lunch or dinner! And you even have an easy to clean-up & pack-out “dish.” Choose your favorite ingredients and go. (By the way, I taught my husband this foil recipe when we were dating — he was just eating way too much frozen pizza and he loved it do much he started making frozen chicken breasts with veggies for his mom and sister when they visited. They were do impressed. Same foil formula: (chicken breast+starch+veggie+fat) and cook at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. Outside in the campfire, the chicken will cook fast or slow depending on your fire so be sure to check the meat for complete “done-ness” before eating. Chicken should not be pink, so be sure to cook it through and even better, if you can cut it into chunks so the individual pieces cook through with the veggie, fat and starch juices. Enjoy!

Travelin' Dawgs

Spicy Bourbon Marinade:

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup bourbon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder


1 package smoked Bratwurst, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium sweet red peppers, cut into 1-in. pieces
1 medium green pepper, cut into 1-in. pieces
2 cups whole button mushrooms
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
Metal or wooden skewers

  • In a resealable plastic bag, combine marinade ingredients; add vegetables. Seal bag; marinate for one hour or up to 24 hours.
  • Drain and reserve marinade. Thread sausage and vegetables alternately on skewers. Brush with reserved marinade.
  • Grill over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until sausage is hot and vegetables are crisp-tender, turning and basting frequently with reserved marinade.

NOTE: Prep work can be done at home before heading for campsite.

Remove ingredients from skewers and serve immediately in toasted crusty rolls.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.