Winners of the 2011 Photo Contest
To see the "Winner's Gallery" click here.
Adults: 1st place, Keith Bowles of Media, PA; 2nd place, Sanjib Bhattacharyya of Drexel Hill, PA; 3rd place, Ji-fang Zhang of Villanova, PA; Honorable Mention, Kathy Maloney of Boothwyn, PA and Bill Hutt of Brookhaven, PA.
Teens: 1st place & ribbon of excellence, Adam Toy of Folcroft, PA; 2nd place, Meggan Cook of Prospect Park, PA; 3rd place, Patrick Reilly of Glenolden, PA; Honorable Mention, Isaiah Bhrim of Essington, PA and Colin Reilly of Glenolden, PA.
Children: 1st place, Alyssa Decker of Springfield, PA; 2nd place, James Hornickle of Wyomissing, PA; 3rd place, Brandon Decker of Springfield, PA; Honorable Mention, Brooke DiPietro of Ridley Park, PA and Lucas Purcell of Berlin, NJ. Congratulations to all!
About the Photo Group
The Friends of the Heinz Refuge (FOHR) Photo Group is one of the most
dedicated volunteer groups you will find in any Friends group in the National Wildlife
Refuge System. It has been my good fortune to have been part of this from the
beginning; first as a volunteer and then as a FWS staff member who now serves
as the liaison between the Photo
Group and the refuge staff. I am still an active photographer and contributor
to the Group, but rely, as do many of the staff, on the generosity and expertise
of the Photo Group members.
The Photo Group, one of the first committees created when the
Friends of the Heinz Wildlife Refuge was established in the mid 1990’s,
consisted of just a few people interested in nature photography. Many regularly
took the refuge’s “photo walks” that I was leading at the
time. I thought we could serve the fledgling FOHR, and the refuge, through our
photo skills and suggested we become a committee under their umbrella. We eschewed
bylaws, officers, and individual dues by NOT designating ourselves as a “club”.
It has worked beautifully over the years. Members must simply keep up their
yearly FOHR membership and contribute, as time allows, in one of our many programs
and/or needs of the refuge staff.
Today, the FOHR Photo Group not only provides breathtaking images and video for interpretive displays,
environmental education and public outreach, but offers its “Learning
about the Environment Through the Lens” or "Thru the Lens" (TTL) program for middle to high school age
students in the greater Philadelphia area.
Once or twice annually students are invited for
a half day each of classroom, field, and creative display work with the guidance of Photo
Group mentors. Along with their individual displays the students also work on
a collective display to build a sense of teamwork.
In addition to learning the basics of photography, an environmental educational component of the the program is taught where students learn
the history of the refuge and Tinicum Marsh and its role in the Darby Creek
Watershed and Delaware Estuary. Students not only gain a sense of place, but
a better understanding of the natural interconnections in the watershed. The
entire curriculum was developed by the Photo Group.
Students are teamed up with a Photo Group mentors, who guide them through
field work, photo composition and creativity – skills that only experience
and experimentation can hone. I have always believed it is that human connection
that can only be appreciated as one generation hands down to another, what may
be a lifetime of trial and error, resulting in a wealth of insights that no
computer chip could ever convey or embellish.
Recently the TTL program has been incorporated into a refuge "Photo Summer Camp". Again, Photo Group mentors, along with refuge staff, work with the campers. It runs for a full week with "campers" actually putting together individual electronic presentations of what they have photographed and learned for family and friends on the their last day.
The Photo Group also sponsors the annual "Nature Photo Contest". It is opened to all and awards are given in three age categories; children, teens, and adults. Winners are announced at the refuge's annual "Cradle of Birding" Festival each September and their work is exhibited for about a month in the visitor center.
In addition to the TTL program, summer camp, and photo contest another large
undertaking for the Group has been the development of a “Traveling Photo
Exhibit”. The exhibit consists of about 35 mounted, matted and framed
photos shot by Photo Group members. The exhibit showcases the habitats, flora, and fauna of the refuge. It is booked at regional venues to promote the refuge and when not off-site it often graces the refuge's Cusano Environmental Education Center.
The Photo Group is non-competative and meets at 10AM on the third Sunday of January, April, July, and October at the Cusano EE Center. When weather premits members often meet at 8AM to spend time together out in the field. Meetings include catching up on old and new business, showing images, and special programs when available. Off-site trips are occasionally held to other refuges and natural areas.
I have found there never seems to be a lack of energy or enthusiasm
for photography, the refuge, and the natural world as a whole by these people.
They are as diverse a group as you could ever find, and those differences make
the Group exciting. The Group has been a haven for learning, exchanging ideas,
creating lasting friendships, and serving the Heinz Refuge. They may be the
perfect example of, “give and you shall receive”.
Refuge Manager, Gary Stolz, has said,
“The Photo Group has been an invaluable asset to the refuge. Its members
have given an amazing amount of time and talent. Many also contribute to the
refuge in other ways such as being involved
with refuge projects and always giving us outstanding materials for use in public
relations, interpretive displays and documentation. We thank them for their
time, talents and dedication to the refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge
And I thank them for all the joy, admiration and friendship they
have given me for all these years. I hope that what I have written
here can express to all of them my sincere pride and thanks to all of them for
what they have contributed. Without them there would be no Photo Group.