2016-2017 Collegiate Photo Winners Showcase

2016-2017 Collegiate Photography Winners Showcase

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) is very proud of our 2016-2017 Collegiate Photography Winners who typify both scholarship and love of the outdoors. Photography entries were particularly strong and numerous this year, amazing work! These outstanding winners, along with all the fine students who entered our contest, are the future communicators about and stewards of our precious outdoors.  Enjoy reading about our winners and their fabulous photos!

VOWA-Hunt’s Photo-Dominion Resources
Best Outdoor Photograph

Niall Goard
Virginia Tech
“Practicing Crevasse Rescue”

Niall is a VT sophomore from Chesapeake Virginia studying marine fisheries conservation. As part of a glaciology course he was given the opportunity to visit some of the most remote glaciers in the world. This was in his words “an eye opening experience that left me astonished with the harsh truth about how human actions are affecting the pristine wilderness hundreds of miles away from human contact. Many of the glaciers we traversed on the expedition had receded multiple miles in as little as ten years. It was heartbreaking and left me with an urge to reevaluate my career path and work in a more effective environmental field.” Hence his choice of major and his amazing winning photograph. Shooting images in the snow, bright light, and cold with such accurate exposure is quite an accomplishment!

” I see photography now” he continues, “as a tool to document, educate, and inspire others to see the world around us clearly and hopefully make a change to preserve our shared home. I plan on studying coral reef ecology in the Caribbean in a year and a half at the Council on International Educational Exchange research station in Bonaire, Antilles. My goal is to work with other marine biologists to film and produce research based documentaries about coral reef bleaching and the implications that come from human pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Niall, we are most proud to have you as a return winner. Your growth, passion about the environment, stirring  words you shared, and incredible photography are all truly inspiring!  Thank you!

VOWA–Dominion Resources
Best Outdoor Photograph Runner-Up

Jennifer “Jenny” Roepe
Virginia Tech
“Grand Teton Reflection”

Jenny hails from Oakton, Virginia and is a VT  sophomore majoring in geography with a minor in international studies. She hopes to also minor in geographical information systems.

Jenny says that an “interesting fact about me is that this past summer, I got an amazing opportunity to work in Yellowstone National Park for three months. I worked in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel as a gift shop associate and in my free time I got to explore one of the oldest National Parks.

The amazing photos Jenny submitted were all taken during her summer in Wyoming while exploring some of her favorite spots in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. One of her goals is to visit all the National Parks in the United States. Jenny is also exploring panorama photography, stitching photos together with her Nikon camera!  Your work is stunning Jenny, keep taking magnificent images, you will go far!

VOWA-Dominion Resources
Honorable Mention Winners

Cole Thrift
Virginia Tech

Cole, from Williamsburg Virginia, is a nineteen-year-old sophomore geography major at Virginia Tech with a minor in meteorology and GIS. He says “I first got into it as a hobby in high school when I went with one of my best friends, who is now a cinematography major at Florida State, to Africa to film a documentary. He taught me the basics of DSLR cameras and how to take good photos and video. Since then, I have been experimenting and teaching myself as I grow more and more in love with the art of photography.”


“My main interests are photography, cartography, hiking and exploring, studying other cultures, and traveling. My goals are to live abroad as a missionary or working for a humanitarian organization. There are a lot of needs in this world and I do not want to ignore them.”

“Tack sharp” eye on this snake, beautiful image! Keep up the great work!

Jordan Van Roe
Virginia Tech
“Spring Study Break”

Jordan is a 20-year old Sophomore at Virginia Tech in the College of Natural Resources, majoring in water resources, policy, and management. He plans on minoring in sustainable natural environments. “I have a deep passion for all things outdoors, especially hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, horseback riding and skiing.”

“I was raised in North Dakota until the end of elementary school and now live in Haymarket, Virginia.”

Gorgeous image Jordan! You did what all good photographers do…got on your belly, eye level with your subject!

Hanna Traux
Lord Fairfax Community College
& Waren County High School

Hanna Traux is a dual enrolled student at LFCC and Warren County HS, studying photography at LFCC. Living with her family at the gateway to Skyline Drive she is able to hike most months out of the year somewhere in Shenandoah National Park and enjoys her summers as a camp counselor at a Boy Scout camp in Gore Virginia. Hanna says she simply “can’t find a better way to hang out with a bunch of my friends than hiking the Appalachian Trail.”

Hanna’s stunning sunrise image was taken at “Home.”  Wonderful exposure and composition Hanna! Keep up your photgraphy, it’s wonderful!


Awards Ceremony

Prizes were presented to the winners and their guests during the 2017 Annual Meeting held March 25, 2017 at the DoubleTree Hotel, Charlottesville VA. We thank Dominion Resources for a grant that not only supported our running of the VOWA Collegiate Contests, but also played a big part in enabling VOWA to offer a wonderful celebratory and informative Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon to our members and award winners from our Collegiate, High School, and Excellence-in-Craft Contests.

We also thank our sponsor Hunt’s Photo & Video for their generosity which enables us to honor an outstanding young photographer in a very special way.

We thank our Judges: Robert Thomas Professional Photographer and Marie & Milan Majarov Contest Chairs  for their time, patience, and expertise in judging our contest.

All conference images courtesy of Robert Thomas, Robert Thomas Photography. Thank you Robert!