Contest winner Sean Stubben (center) accepts his award from Meli Acuna of Cox (left) and Pat Graham, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Arizona.
Adventures in Nature Contest winner Sean Stubben (center) accepts his award from Meli Acuna of Cox (left) and Pat Graham, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. © Tana Kappel/TNC


Students Take Home Cash Prizes and Bragging Rights in Nature’s Photo Contest

Phoenix, AZ

  • Tracey Kiest Stone
    The Nature Conservancy in Arizona
    Phone: 602-738-1586

Students from Gilbert, Chandler, Tucson and Prescott impressed the socks off professional photographers in the 7th annual “Adventures in Nature” Photo Content.

The winning photo, “Killdeer” by Sean Stubben formerly of Gilbert, now in Tucson, required patience. He was at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. “It had just flooded and was dried out a bit. There were some mudflats where birds were eating bugs. I just waited in the mud for the birds to come by.”

Trenton Gullikson, Prescott, won second place with a shot from TNC’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve in southern Arizona. “I was shooting there all day,” says Trenton Gullikson, contest winner. “I looked behind me and there was a bridge and the sun was setting. When I came home and saw it, I thought it was really cool.”

Third place winner Dallin Webb, Gilbert, thought he was a long-shot. “I haven’t been doing photography that long. I submitted my photos hoping I might get something so it’s pretty cool to be in the top three.”

What started as a Tucson competition has expanded across the state. This year, more than 1,600 photos were entered by Arizonans—ages 13-18—engaged in the creative contest.

"This challenge is a great way to inspire younger generations to spend more time outside and to look at nature in different and creative ways,” said Tana Kappel, marketing manager for The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. “This competition is also the driving force behind some great partnerships.”

Winners will receive up to $10,000 in prize money plus gift certificates and passes to Nature Conservancy preserves in Arizona. The breakdown is $5,000 for first, $2,500 for second and $1,000 for third. All honorable mentions earn $250. They are:

  • Ethan Hill, Gilbert, “Cake Layers”
  • Austin Olsen, Amado, “Clouds rushing over the rock formations at Monument Valley
  • Tara Poseley, Chandler, “Snail obscured”
  • Sean Stubben, Tucson, “Black-necked stilt”
  • Brinlee Vick, Gilbert, “An angel gets its wings”
  • Cassidie Waldron, Tucson, “Orange butterfly on yellow flower”
  • Alyssa Wiltbank, St. Johns, “Follow Mama”

Contest winners will also have their photos published by the sponsors: The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, Arizona Highways magazine and Cox Communications. Plus, the top three winners will receive a photography workshop from Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

The judges were Phoenix-based photographers Suzanne Mathia and Mark Skalney, former UA president and acclaimed photographer John Schaefer, Arizona Highways magazine photo editor Jeff Kida, Arizona Daily Star photo editor Rick Wiley, and former UA music professor and TNC photo volunteer Bob Billups.

Since 1925, Arizona Highways magazine has brought the beauty of Arizona to visitors and natives alike through its award-winning photography, travel journalism and steadfast commitment to discovering the state’s treasures. Helping to drive tourism to and through the state, Arizona Highways has subscribers in all 50 states and more than 120 countries.

Cox Communications is the third largest cable provider and a multi-service broadband communications company in the country, serving nearly 3 million residential and business product subscribers in Arizona (a product subscriber represents an individual service purchased by a customer).

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 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, 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.