RHODE ISLAND—The Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges of Rhode Island (FNWR-RI) have announced the winners of their 20th annual amateur photo competition. Winners come from across Rhode Island, from Charlestown to Bristol to North Kingstown. Winners in every category will receive a prize, though the Best in Show will take home $100, and all entrees will be displayed in an exhibition through October.

FNWR-RI Chair, Richard Thieke, said that one of the biggest joys about this year’s competition turnout was getting people out into the refuges to have something meaningful to do after a summer of cancelled events brought about by COVID.

“The whole objective is to encourage people to get out and enjoy the refuges and take pictures,” Thieke said. “It was especially important to do this year because so much other stuff has been cancelled.”

“It’s something people can do alone or with family groups. And we had more photos submitted than last year and more photographers,” Thieke added. “It was nice to be able to help out.”

Contestants were asked to submit photos taken from one of the five national wildlife refuges in Rhode Island including Ninigret, Trustom Pond, John H. Chafee at Pettaquamscutt Cove, Sachuest Point and Block Island. Entrants were further asked to submit their photos to one of four categories including “Wildlife,” “Flora,” “Habitat/Landscape” and “Children.” A “Best of Show” and “People’s Choice” were also conferred. In all, the goal is to engage residents with the pristine natural spaces that are the states refuges.

“The Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges of RI are proud of our beautiful national wildlife refuges,” the group said on its website. “With so much to photograph, from wildlife to landscapes, we encourage amateur photographers to enter their favorite color refuge photos.”

Best of Show was awarded to “Dawn at the Point,” taken by Andrew Volding of Middletown at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. The People’s Choice Award was given to “Drudenwald” by Sarah Lawhorne of North Kingstown, which was taken at Chafee.

Winners in the Wildlife category included Marjorie Vorhaben of Wakefield, Brad Sherman of Charlestown and Carmen Rugel of Middletown.

Winners in the Flora category included Stacy Tynan of Waterford, Pam Marsden of Bristol and Greg Cummings of Fanwood.

Winners in the Habitat/Landscape category included Sarah Lawhorne of North Kingstown,

Carmen Rugel of Middletown and Pam Marsden of Bristol.

Winners in the Children category included Grace Hood of Middletown, Thomas Richardson of Wakefield and Hanaa Amanullah of Warwick.

All photos entered will be exhibited at Kettle Pond Visitors Center in Charlestown from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4, and then displayed at Sachuest Point Visitors Center in Middletown from Oct. 5 to Oct. 18. Unfortunately, due to COVID-related limits on the size of gatherings, there will be no reception this year for the winners.

The Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges of Rhode Island is a volunteer member-based nonprofit organization devoted to conservation and development of healthy habitat for flora and fauna at Rhode Island’s National Wildlife Refuges, and to safe, accessible, ecological experiences for refuge visitors. The Friends group helps secure funds for and works on refuge projects designed to meet the goals of the US Fish and Wildlife Comprehensive Plan for Rhode Island’s 1800 acres of federal refuge habitats.

“We don’t do it to raise money. The fees we collect are dispersed back out as prizes. It’s a matter of getting people out there,” Thieke said. “We’re very happy with the number of people we got. People are also happy to have something to do.”

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