Congratulations to our Excellence-in-Craft Winners!

*Note if you click on many of the titles you will find links to the winners work…read and enjoy! This page is a work in progress.  We will be adding bio material and photos of the winners so please come back and visit!

Outstanding Column

Amanda Creasey

1st Place:  Amanda Creasey, “In the Alaskan Bush: Local Reading Specialist & Son Summer Up North

Amanda Sue Creasey is a high school English teacher and freelance writer residing in Chester, Virginia. She is married with dogs, and loves to run, hike, walk her dogs, read, and write. She is a member of the Poetry Society of Virginia and the James River Writers. She is also the Co-Chair of the 2019 James River Writers Writing Show, and a board member and collegiate contest chair for the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association. Find her online at, where she maintains Mind the Dog Writing Blog, or visit her on Instagram. Amanda’s photo with her family is by Radiant Snapshots.

Dr. Peter Brookes

2nd Place:  Peter Brookes, Elkin’ at Elevation

Dr. Peter Brookes is a D.C. foreign policy geek by day and a Virginia freelance outdoor writer by night.  When not trying to prevent World War III, he spends as much time on the water and in the fields as possible, hunting and fishing in Virginia—and beyond.  He currently freelances for The Northern Virginia Daily newspaper, Woods & Waters magazine and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  He’s a graduate of the Naval Academy, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown.  You can catch his work on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn at Brookes Outdoors.

3rd Place: Chris McCotter,Listening for the Bullfrogs

Outstanding Photo

Snow Geese at Sunrise, CNWR

1st Place: Ann & Rob Simpson, “Chincoteague Snow Geese at Sunrise”

Ann and Rob Simpson, or www.annrobsimpson.comare professional photographers, biologists, book authors and noted natural history experts having spent years involved with research and interpretation in the national parks and other natural areas of the world. They have written numerous books on national parks coast to coast that promote wise and proper use of natural habitats and environmental stewardship. In cooperation with American Park Network, in 2006-7 they led Canon “Photography in the Parks” workshops in major national parks including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Great Smokies.

Ann & Rob Simpson

Ann and Rob are both biology professors at Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, Virginia. As part of the college’s nature photography curriculum, the Simpson’s regularly lead international photo, birding and natural history tours to many areas in the world including Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Madagascar, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Venezuela, and Mexico.

Tagged Monarch

  2nd Place: Marie Majarov, “Tagged Monarch”

3rd Place: Marie Majarov, Swamp Milkweed”

Swamp Milkweed

Outstanding Blog

Bobby Whitescarver

1st Place: Bobby WhitescarverGetting More on the Ground Blog

Robert “Bobby” Whitescarver is a farmer, watershed restoration consultant, award winning writer and educator. Retired from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service with 31 years of field experience, Bobby teaches natural resources management at James Madison University and is president of a private environmental consulting firm. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in Agronomy in 1979. Last year, he and his wife, Jeanne Hoffman were selected as soil health champions by the National Association of Conservation Districts.

His second book, Swoope Almanac, Stories of Love, Land, and Water in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is available at

Outstanding Feature Story

Marie Majarov

1st Place: Marie Majarov
Pollinator Waystation,” Virginia Wildlife, March/April 2018

Marie Majarov is a freelance photographer/writer, a Virginia Master Naturalist and a trained DGIF Habitat Partners© pollinator habitat educator.  She and her husband Milan reside on the edge of a beautiful old woodland in Frederick County where they thoroughly enjoy nature and its conservation.
A frequent contributor to Virginia Wildlife Magazine, Marie’s   work has also appeared in Zoogoer, a Smithsonian magazine, BlueRidge Country and various regional newsletters/newspapers.  Her newest feature, Grassroots: A story of Virginia’s Working Landscapes was just published in the 2019 March /April issue of Virginia Wildlife.

2nd Place: Chris Bolgiano
Seeing the Forest for the Carbon,” Virginia Wildlife, March April 2018

Chris Bolgiano, Professor Emerita, James Madison University, is a “mildly amusing nature writer who used Chris(tina) Bolgiano the androgynous form of her name for early articles about wildlife and hunting, and continues because she enjoys the confusion when male readers/editors contact her.  Living on 112 wooded acres in western Virginia, she focuses on environmental history, forest ecology, and – most difficult of all — looking for jokes in our environmental crisis.  She has written or edited six books, as well as travel and nature articles for the Washington Post and New York Times; Sierra, Audubon, Wilderness and other magazines; and syndicated     op-eds for the (Chesapeake) Bay Journal News Service.  Several of her books and articles have won literary prizes.”

3rd Place: King Montgomery
Gentleman Bob and the Mud Bat,The Virginia Sportsman, Summer 2018

Outstanding Newsletter

1st Place: Robert ThomasThe Singing Reel
Newsletter of the Fly Fishers of Virginia

Outstanding Book

1st Place: Lisa Connors, Salmon Matters: How A Fish Feeds A Forest

Lisa Connors loves traipsing around on her 14-acre property collecting ideas and being awed by her fellow Earthlings.  She writes children’s books and nature essays in the hopes of instilling the same awe in others.  Salmon Matters: How a Fish Feeds a Forest follows the same But that’s not all refrain as Milkweed Matters: The Life Cycles within a Food Chain, which won 2nd place in the 2017 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association Excellence in Craft Award. Please visit Lisa at for more information.

Outstanding Illustration

Flowering Dogwood

1st Place: Betty Gatewood,“Flowering Dogwood”

Betty Gatewood

Betty Gatewood,, a retired middle school science teacher, is a watercolor artist and Virginia Master Naturalist. She has provided cover art for five of Virginia Native Plant Society’s “Wildflower of the Year” brochures, including this year’s cover illustration of New Jersey Tea, and last year’s illustration of Flowering Dogwood. She has illustrated two children’s books, Salmon Matters, published in 2018, and Milkweed Matters, and 6 of her illustrations are featured in Robert Whitescarver’s new book Swoope Almanac, published in April, 2019.  Her passion is to document the changing seasons with her botanical illustrations, journals and landscapes, but also to share her love of the natural world with others.

Betty tells us that she has “always been fascinated by and ‘drawn to’ dogwood ~ it was one of my mother’s favorite trees.  Only much later in college courses, did I learn that the showy (WHITE) bracts were not the flowers!  I’ve documented it in pencil, watercolors and sepia over the years, and now I concentrate on documenting not only the bracts, leaf arrangement, and stages over time, but the details of the tube-like flowers in the center.  I was invited by Nancy Sorrells to illustrate Flowering Dogwood for Virginia Native Plant Society’s Wildflower of the Year brochure for 2018.  Many thanks must go to Nancy who helped me meet the needs of the Society’s brochure for botanical accuracy, right position for printing, and its various stages of blooming.

Northern Neck Sailboats
Snow Owl

2nd Place: Nikki Forman, “Snowy Owl

3rd Place: Ashley Unger, “Northern Neck Sailboats”


Special Awards

Fly Fishers of Virginia “Best Conservation Entry”
Marie Majarov

Pollinator Waystation,” Virginia Wildlife, March/April 2018

Mossy Creek Fly Fishing “Best Fly Fishing Entry”
Robert Thomas

The Singing Reel
The Newsletter of the Fly Fishers of Virginia

Appalachian Mountain Advocates “Conservation Writing Award”
Robert Whitescarver
Governor Northam, These Pipelines Aren’t Being Done Right


Special thanks to our Excellence-in-Craft sponsors: the Fly Fishers of Virginia, Appalachian Mountain Advocates and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing.  We also send our gratitude to the many fine judges involved in this competition for their generous donation of time, patience, and expertise in judging our contest.
VOWA thanks Robert Thomas for all his efforts in Chairing and organizing this successful Excellence-in-craft competition.