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Tucson students take top prizes in statewide photo contest

The Nature Conservancy’s hosted its eighth annual Adventures in Nature Photo Contest
Chenyu Li, who attended The Gregory School in Tucson, won first place in the Nature...
Chenyu Li, who attended The Gregory School in Tucson, won first place in the Nature Conservancy's eighth annual Adventures in Nature Photo Content. Li won $5,000 for his photo of the Bighorn Fire in the Catalinas.(Chenyu Li)
Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 3:00 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Two students from Tucson took the top prizes in The Nature Conservancy’s eighth annual Adventures in Nature Photo Contest.

Chenyu Li, who attended The Gregory School in Tucson, won first place and $5,000 for his photo of the Bighorn Fire in the Catalinas.

During the awards event, Chenyu said “he loves Arizona landscapes and wanted to submit something unique.”

The Nature Conservancy said the judges called his photo remarkable with brilliant composition.

Karissa Morales, of Tucson, took second place and $2,500 for her photo of a boy kissing a chicken.

“I wanted to take a different approach and focus on a human and nature interaction rather than a beautiful nature photo,” she said. “When I saw my nephew pick up the chicken and, kiss it, I knew I captured something special.”

Tucson’s Henry Davis won an honorable mention and $250 for his photo of a tortoise.

The Nature Conservancy said the contest started as a Tucson competition and has expanded across the state.

For this contest, more than 3,700 photos were submitted by more than 500 photographers ages 13-18 years old. Last year, there were less than 1,7000 entries.

“This challenge is a great way to inspire younger generations to spend more time outside and to look at nature in different and creative ways,” said Tana Kappel, marketing manager for The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. “This competition is also the driving force behind some great partnerships.”

Chandler’s Arnav Ved took third and won $1,000 for his photo of three avocets at a nature preserve.

Prescott’s Trenton Gullikson, Flagstaff’s Alexa Hartman, Phoenix’s Grant Olson, Glendale’s Levi Plummer and Chandler’s Weston Thomas were also honorable mentions.

The judges were photographers Suzanne Mathia and Mark Skalney, former University of Arizona president John Schaefer, Arizona Highways magazine photo editor Jeff Kida, Arizona Daily Star photo editor Rick Wiley and former UA music professor Bob Billups.

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