PRESS RELEASE: ORK announces inaugural photography contest

Winners have been announced for the 2020 contest.

Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Contact: Meaghan Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director

Multiple categories will put on a spotlight the beauty of the area

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) is soliciting the best photographs from across the watershed. Judges will be looking for images that highlight what makes the Ogeechee and Canoochee Rivers, and the surrounding areas, remarkable.

“From the Ogeechee Shoals to the wide estuaries, pine forests to coastal marshes, our watershed is home to an incredible variety of ecological features,” said Meaghan Walsh Gerard, communications director for ORK. “We are also a habitat for more than 160 rare species of plants and animals. By displaying the amazing ecological wealth we have, we hope to inspire more people to protect it.” 

Photographers can enter in multiple categories: Landscape, portrait, wildlife, plant life, underwater, aerial, black and white, and funny wildlife. Since this will be an annual event each December, ORK requests that any images submitted be taken within the same calendar year. ORK hopes to see entries from across the 5,500 square miles of the watershed. 

Complete rules and submission guidelines are available at Submissions are due by December 20, 2020. 

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. At 245 miles long, the Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,000 square miles of land. More at


Nature poetry

Updated: October 28, 2020

Turn to the outdoors for poetic inspiration. Sit and observe nature for a few minutes. Notice what you hear, smell and feel. Take your impressions, focus on specific descriptions, and compose a short poem. 


  • Read other poems to get an idea for the styles you like.
  • Use comparisons (simile and metaphor).
  • Read it out loud to yourself so you can hear how it sounds.
  • Listen to tips from Kwame Alexander, NPR’s poet-in-residence

Submit your entry by Wednesday, September 30, 2020 to Include your name, age, poem (20 lines or less) and the location that inspired it – attach a photo if you want! ORK will award a t-shirt to the top three poets.

This contest is now closed. Read the winning entries below.

Photo by the poet

The Mill Pond at George L. Smith II State Park
By Wesley Hendley

Paddling through cypress trees and tupelos,
The air cools, the sky grows dark.
Raindrops surround the boat with tinkling music.
Thunder rumbles, lightning pops!
The torrent comes,
But summer storms don’t last long.
Quiet returns.
The calm water has a glassy sheen.
Then a rainbow points the way to its treasure.

Reverie in Smith State Park
By Peter Relic

Crush the scull
through the water’s top,
a black silk parachute
gilded with bream
rippling across the face
of the lake.
Mind like a millstone
thirsty for grist,
hair piled high as
a wagonload of corn,
you lie back in rented kayak
as if it were your
new turquoise coffin
and stare straight up
at cypress sentinels
and tupelo goalposts,
to chart the ghost
of a gopher tortoise
skating across the sky.
You gonna paddle or not
grunts the tour guide.
What can you say?
We should all be so lucky
to go out this way.

The Bridge
By Mark Dallas

He carries his chem kit under the bridge to test the water.
A few drops of thiosulfate change the sample from indigo
to amethyst to clear, revealing the level of dissolved
oxygen. Now, the darting barn swallows eye the man who stands
so close to their nests stuck to the beams above him.

                                                                                                  So many
times he’s canoed here, upstream from the lake to the south, taking
in the cypress and tupelo, herons and hawks—while floating
through the effulgence of sunlight filling the water, the trees.
Paddling beneath the bridge, he thinks each car that rumbles above
inhabits another world—of deadlines and noise. So often
he’s driven the bridge himself, in that other world, most times looking
down longingly to see where the water measures on the cypress
trunks. The bridge is a nexus of two worlds he knows so well.

But once a month he drives to a place in between, parks beside the
road, walks down to the halfway world of test tubes and barn swallows.
He holds aloft the sample bottle—a small vial of the creek—
after the first three chemicals but before he adds the starch
indicator and sodium thiosulfate: the sample
glows golden in the sun. This is the place he’s bottled the
effulgence, the place in between, the bridge between two worlds.

Scavenger Hunt


Ogeechee Riverkeeper encourages you to get out and explore the Ogeechee and Canoochee watershed. The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to photograph the items on this list.

All are welcome to play for fun, but there are prizes for those that wish to compete.

Players get 1 point for each item found. An additional point is earned if the player correctly identifies the specific item. Example: A feather (1 pt). Identifies as barred owl (1 additional pt). Points are cumulative. There are no deductions for items not found or misidentified; they are simply points not earned.

Submit photo(s) to In your email, include your checklist and any identifiers for extra points along with your total of your points.

The three players with the most points will win an exclusive ORK drybag or t-shirt.

Photograph these items (1 point each). Identify these items (1 additional point each). Possible total: 20 points.

    • Wildflowers
    • Pinecone
    • Berries
    • Vine
    • Seeds or seed pod
    • Bird nest
    • Insect
    • Feather
    • Unusual shaped leaf
    • Acorn or other nuts

Photograph these items (1 point each). Identify location of these items (1 additional point each). Possible total: 28 points.

    • Ponded area in a creek
    • Animal hole in the ground
    • Spider web
    • Bird nest
    • Hole in a tree
    • Animal tracks
    • Eroded soil
    • Stream or creek
    • Dew on a flower or leaf
    • Rocks with many colors
    • Y-shaped twig
    • Sunlight coming through trees
    • Trail marker
    • Fungus on a tree

Download a PDF of the checklist.

Bonus points:

Two additional points will be awarded to player with most artistic arrangement of items in their photo submission.

Maximum possible: 50 points


Submissions must be received by Monday, June 15, noon EST for consideration in the competition.

Submitted images may be used by ORK on social media. By submitting photos, players agree to let ORK share these images.

ORK will contact winners using submission email address.

Remember: do not disturb any animals or nests, or touch any unknown plants. Do not trespass on private property.

Have fun!