Winners: 2014 Got Dirt Photo Contest


If these 3 photos don’t inspire you to protect nature, you’d better check your pulse

You made it tough with so many inspiring entries (over 3000 total!), but somehow we managed to choose 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place winners for the 2014 Got Dirt? Photo Contest.

If these three images don’t inspire you to get up and do something to protect nature, please, for your own safety, check to make sure that your heart is in fact beating.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest! The photos were so, so good this year! Watch our instagram for more highlights in the weeks to come.

1st Place: Early Morning in the Eastern Sierra by Casey Strong

This shot was an immediate standout. Moments like the one captured here have so much to do with why we fight to preserve the wilderness, pristine and untrammeled. They’re exactly what we’re hoping to find when we load up our packs and trek out into the wilds. The contrast between the vast, majestic, sun-kissed landscape, and the tiny act of fetching water for a bowl of oatmeal; it’s enough to inspire awe and serenity at the very same time.

Also, it was taken on an iPhone, which is just… Wow.

Congratulations, Casey! Thank you for sharing this moment with everyone!

Story behind the shot: We woke up early for a long day of backpacking and to catch the sunrise at Garnet Lake in the Eastern Sierras. It turned out to be one of the best sunrises I’ve seen. Here, the sun is just hitting Banner Peak and Mount Ritter as Annie gets water for our oatmeal.

2nd Place: Northern Cricket Frog by Mike Adamovic

First you see the frog, crisp, bright, adorable. Then you see the fingertip, enormous by comparison. How can anything anything alive be so tiny??

We seek out the big landscapes and the endless views, but sometimes nature’s greatest delights are so small you’d hardly even see them if you didn’t know where to look.

Mike knows where to look. Thanks for sharing, Mr. Adamovic! Congratulations!

Story behind the shot: Northern Cricket Frogs are endangered in New York, with pesticides containing DDT and other noxious chemicals being the likely cause of their precipitous decline in numbers. During my SCA internship with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, I got to assist with catching & tagging the frogs in their swampy habitat. Spotting something so small–let alone catching it–is no easy feat, especially while wading through a waist-deep mixture of glue-like mud & duckweed! Generally the only way to find them is to wait for one to jump. Like a hawk watching its prey up until the very moment of capture, it’s necessary to keep your gaze firmly fixed to the #frog until you can scoop it up with a small hand net. To tag them, we carefully inject a dye into the soft pads on the bottoms of their feet, which brightly fluoresces under a UV light, allowing biologists to track their dispersal.

3rd Place: Dogs and Denali by Jayme Dittmar

Isn’t it inspiring to know that our great Alaskan wilderness is protected & patrolled all winter long by these intrepid four-legged conservationists (& of course their heroic, two-legged handlers!)?

The answer we’re looking for is “Yes.” Denali in the background, canine rangers in the foreground. Stunning.

Thanks Jayme! Congratulations!

Story behind the shot: At Denali National Park and Preserve, where I work as a seasonal NPS ranger, we have approximately 30 Canine Rangers that work everyday to protect two million acres of wilderness in the remote interior of Alaska. We preform various scientific studies and partner with other divisions to preform wilderness work using the “most minimal tool.” If only all of our outdoor leaders could harness the passion, enjoyment, and integrity that these dogs put into their work everyday. I learn from them often, and they are an incredible source of inspiration.

In this shot Canine Ranger Sitken is single leading the sled as Kennels Ranger Lauren Gomes cruises back from a three week trip to McGonagall Pass. Denali, otherwise known as Mt. McKinley, looms in the background.

Student Conservation Association