APALACHIN (WBNG) -- Photographers from around the country were honored on Saturday, as awards were handed out for the 2019 #NatureNow Photo Contest through the Waterman Conservation Education Center.
The contest ran from August until November, encouraging participants to go outside and organically capture the images of nature.
"My eyes have been really opened up by the interest in photography in this area," said Teri Franzen, the contest administrator. "I am just so proud of all my students that entered. All the local photographers, and I'm just so proud this program has been so well-recognized and that we are continuing to expand our reach."
The program, Natural History Through The Lens, is all about focusing on conversation efforts by getting people to appreciate the great outdoors.
"That gets them more attuned to nature and more interested in maybe maintaining those ecosystems and that's kind of our bridge to conservation," Franzen said.
The contest had nine categories, more than $2,000 in prize money, and brought in photos from people in 12 states, and even from Israel.
All participants were bound to strict guidelines to help keep the true meaning behind wild and free.
"We didn't allow baiting, we wouldn't allowed photos from zoos or game farms or any other controlled environment," Franzen. "As a wildlife photographer, I'm really concerned about photography ethics, influencing your wild subject and not influencing your wild subject."
But these rules zooming in on a key focus of the contest: studying what's around us.
"We get people out in the field and we get them to go take their pictures and get them to come back and learn more about the subjects they've photographed," Franzen said. "If you spend ten minutes in nature and just sit still, things come out of the woodwork. It's just amazing what you see."
The Waterman Conservation executive director Chris Audette supported the program because of it's unique way to look at ways to help the environment.
"We're getting to a point where we're looking for creative ways to send the message that we have to conserve the environment and that there's amazing things out there to be seen," Audette said.
A total of 52 photographers submitted a combined total of 253 photos to the competition.
Both Franzen and Audette told 12 News Waterman Conservation plans to hold another photo contest.