2024 Adventures in Nature Student Photo Contest Winners Announced!

A close up of a ground squirrel looking at the camera.
Chubby Cheeks Honorable Mention © Presley Gyuro

Students from around the state of Arizona impressed professional photographers in the 11th Annual “Adventures in Nature” student photo contest, in partnership Arizona Highways magazine and Arizona’s Family.

“For almost a century now, Arizona Highways has been showcasing the beauty of the state,” said Robert Stieve, the magazine’s editor. “There’s a lot to be proud of, including our co-sponsorship of this wonderful photo contest. Every year it’s exciting to see the images come in and think about how much effort went into making them. And that’s one of the most important aspects of this—to get the kids off of the couch and into the great outdoors. They work hard. And it really shows.”

What started as a Tucson competition has expanded across the state. This year, more than 400 talented Arizonans, ages 13-18, entered nearly 700 photos taken right here in Arizona.

“Over the years, our Adventures in Nature Student Photo Contest has blossomed, showcasing the immense talent of student photographers across our state,” said TNC Arizona State Director Daniel Stellar. "Arizona Highways, a founding partner, has been instrumental in its success while also offering professional feedback and guidance to the promising photographers. Additionally, over the past seven years, Cox Communications has generously awarded $70,000 in cash prizes. The contest provides a meaningful experience for the students and each year the caliber of photos continues to impress!”

A white horse chases behind a brown horse, with the field around them blurred.
Reprimand 1st place © Jessica Finnie

This year, Jessica Finnie of Peoria took home first place for “Reprimand." In her submission she stated, “This picture captures two wild mustangs engaged in a fierce chase. Mustangs establish their dominance within the social hierarchy of a herd and reprimand younger stallions who challenge their rank. In this photograph, the younger horse is being reprimanded by the reigning mustang.”

A single tree with no leaves shines in the sunlight, surrounded by rocks and a stream.
Life Finds a Way 2nd place © Arianna DuPont
A large white bird spans its wings as it lands on in a puddle of water on a sunny day.
Egret Entrance 3rd place © Aidan Yu

Coming in second and third place, respectively, were last year’s winner, Arianna DuPont of Tucson for “Life Finds a Way” and Aidan Yu of Chandler for “Egret Entrance.” Last year, Aidan won an honorable mention for each of his two submissions.

The top ten winners split a cash prize of over $10,000. First place receives $5,000, second place receives $2,500 and third place receives $1,000. Seven additional Honorable Mentions receive $250 each.

This year’s judges were Arizona Highways magazine photo editor Jeff Kida, Phoenix-based professional photographers Suzanne Mathia and Mark Skalny and former UA president turned current Chairperson of Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Corporation (LSST) and acclaimed photographer John Schaefer.

Honorable Mentions:

Image of the night sky, appearing purple, with the Milky Way visible.
Milkyway over Monument Valley Honorable Mention © Owen Waggoner
The orange sun sets behind an ocotillo plant, causing the branches to appear as a silhouette.
Fire in the Sky Honorable Mention © Andrea Guardi
An owl sits on a branch and looks to the left with a cloudy sky behind it.
The Yellow Stare Honorable Mention © Tobi Lindsay

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.