Capturing the unique and aesthetic beauty of forests and woodland is the purpose behind the quarterly (and annual) Florida State Forest Photo Contest presented by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
The contest serves as well to promote the work of the Florida Forest Service, the largest FDACS division, and its call to #ExploreFloridaForests. In business for more than 80 years, the service guides the operation of 38 forests and one ranch, which collectively amounts to more than 1.67 million acres. The aim is to protect and maintain biological diversity while integrating the public use of natural resources.
In all, there are eight Florida State Forests less than 100 miles from Tampa by car, including Withlacoochee in Brooksville (50 miles), Lake Wales Ridge in Frostproof (76 miles), Seminole in Eustis (78 miles) and Myakka in Englewood (88 miles). Rounding out the list are Peace River in Arcadia (89 miles), Holopaw in St. Cloud (91 miles), Kissimmee Bend in Sebring (95 miles) and Ross Prairie in Ocala (98 miles). For the full list of state forests, see the chart below.
The annual forest photo contest allows for quarterly winning entries to be judged as well for recognition as photo of the year, which in 2021-22 went to photographer Yonhui Foster for "Rabbit Face 1," snapped at Blackwater River State Forest in Santa Rosa County.
Photos are judged in four contest categories, including nature (wildlife, plant life, natural landscape), recreation (hunting, fishing, trails, camping, family, friends, people and pets) and creative (tell a story, artistic and illusion). The fourth category is for FDACS employees.
According to contest materials, contest prizes are to be awarded through the support of the Friends of Florida State Forests. Quarterly winners receive one T-shirt and one primitive campsite at a Florida state forest of choice for up to three days. Prizes for the annual award winner are a Florida's State Forests Annual Day Use Entrance Pass, a one-year membership to Friends of Florida State Forests, and one framed enlargement of the winning photograph. Click the flyer below to link to submission, judging, deadline and other contest rules and regulations, which are subject to change.
The Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District is a proud supporter of conservation awareness efforts. Call: 813-347-6706.