Each year, we invite you to share your best nature photos of Wisconsin with us in our annual Photo Contest. It’s one of our favorite parts of the year, because we get to see all the wonders of Wisconsin that bring our members joy!

We are proud to announce this year’s winning entries. Prizes were awarded for First Place, Runner-Up, Third Place, and People’s Choice Photo. People’s Choice was determined by popular vote.

A special thanks to our guest judges, Marci Lanois and Thomas Meyer, for joining the panel to help select the winning photos! Marci was the First Place winner of the 2022 Photo Contest. Learn more about her work by visiting her photography website. Thomas Meyer is a longtime NRF Field Trip leader, avid photographer, and retired conservation biologist with the Wisconsin DNR’s State Natural Areas Program. Learn more about his work here.

Enjoy these gorgeous captures! We sincerely thank everyone who submitted photos to our annual contest. We had a record-breaking 600+ entries! There is so much to love about Wisconsin, and we appreciate seeing it all through your lens. 


First Place

Sunset over a lake, with the sunset's reflection on the water

Sunset on Middle Sugarbush Lake

by Julie Spanton

Vilas, WI

One of the most exciting things about spending time at our place in the Northwoods, are the sunsets! Every single one is different and seemingly better than the last. Capturing as many of these moments as possible is one of my favorite things to do! It makes you appreciate every single day and God’s beauty here in Wisconsin!

Julie Spanton

First Place Winner


A blue jay mid take off off of a snow covered pine branch

Blue Jay Takeoff

by Andy Raupp

Montello, WI

I captured this photo of a Blue Jay taking off from the top of a spruce tree in our yard one winter morning. Blue Jays are one of my favorite birds to see and photograph with their incredible feather colors and patterns. I was thrilled to capture this take off shot that shows the Blue Jays full wingspan on display! What I love most about nature in Wisconsin is the abundance and diversity of wildlife. As someone who enjoys being outdoors and seeing wildlife, Wisconsin is a wonderful place to be.

Andy Raupp


Third Place

A sandhill crane bending down in the water next to a sandhill crane chick

Sandhill Crane

by William Monroe

Fitchburg, WI

I was fortunate to have received a tip from another birder about a Sandhill Crane pair that was nesting in the Fitchburg, WI area. Because of this person’s selflessness I was able to visit the Crane pair many times through the spring while they sat on their nest and incubated their two eggs. Unfortunately, only one of them hatched, but the result is what you see here. This Sandhill Crane Colt is about 2 weeks old in the photo, and he would alternate between making the most rudimentary attempts at foraging for himself, and taking frequent snacks from his doting parents.

Working with this Crane family really encapsulates what I love most about the natural world in Wisconsin. I could (and did) sit for many hours mostly observing but also documenting the growth of the family. To me, the natural resources we have in Wisconsin are vital, they are what is most real to me in this world. I feel a great sense of gratitude simply being in it, even if I don’t “get the shots.”

William Monroe

Third Place

People’s Choice

A group of American avocets walking along the beach

American Avocets

by Todd Leech

North Beach, Racine County

It was a very cold, rainy and windy day in late April and the spring migration was barely underway along Lake Michigan. North Beach in Racine County has always been one of my favorite beaches for shorebirds like these American avocets. When I arrived at the beach, I spotted a handful of avocets scurrying along the beach, when all of a sudden, a bigger flock flew in and landed with the others. In total there was 25 of them.

My favorite thing about nature in Wisconsin is there is such a variety of birds that pass through our state, and at times, you never know what’s going to show up. Something completely off course and not expected.

Todd Leech

People's Choice Winner

Congratulations to all our winning photographers! And thank you again to everyone who submitted photos. Keep your eyes peeled for your pictures and photo credits featured in Foundation publications and social media posts. And keep that camera at the ready, because our annual Photo Contest will return this fall! Sign up for our Wisconservation News emails to be notified when the 2024 Photo Contest opens:

Be sure to bring your camera on Field Trips each year. Your photography may be the winner of our next contest! 

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