Cedar River Watershed District’s photo contest returns for summer

Children fishing, a paddler’s perspective from a kayak, ducks on a pond – all kinds of photos come in each year showing scenes from various parts of Minnesota’s Cedar River Watershed.

As connecting with nature has taken on even more importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cedar River Watershed District is bringing back its Cedar Scenes weekly photo contest for its fourth-straight year. All ages are welcome to participate.

Once again, each submitted photo will count as one entry in the October drawing for a 10-foot, sit-in kayak sponsored by the Austin Runnings store. With a limit of two photo entries per week, each person could have up to 36 chances to be drawn for the kayak as this year’s Cedar Scenes will run for 18 weeks (Monday to Sunday), starting this week through Oct. 4.

In 2019, the contest drew 45 participants, who submitted 329 images of water-related scenes in the Cedar River Watershed. Dawn Tabor Bangert was drawn as the winner of the kayak sponsored by Runnings.

“For the general public and our staff, Cedar Scenes is a lot of fun and really educational,” said CRWD outreach coordinator Tim Ruzek. “We get to see a lot of the watershed’s beauty along with people’s creative sides but we also learn how people are choosing to enjoy the local waterways and what they’re seeing out there.”

Each week CRWD staff will review the submitted photos and choose one winner based on the photo’s quality and representation of the watershed (a variety of locations are wanted for the overall weekly winners). Weekly winners will get $15 in Chamber Bucks to be used at most Austin-area businesses.

Local businesses have supported previous Cedar Scenes by donating gift cards as weekly prizes but CRWD did not want to do that this year given the challenges businesses are facing from the pandemic.

Instead, CRWD will purchase $300 in Chamber Bucks through the nonprofit Impact Austin program that, in turn, will make a matching $300 donation to the Austin Salvation Army to help people in need. CRWD will use $300 of the state’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention aid given annually to Mower County to purchase the gift cards and then use AIS awareness, including the state’s “Clean In, Clean Out” logo throughout the Cedar Scenes contest,.

To date, the Impact Austin gift card program has raised more than $22,000 in gift card purchases – including $5,000 by Hormel Foods Corp. – along with an equal matching donation made to the Salvation Army by The Hormel Foundation and Hormel Foods. In total, The Hormel Foundation has committed $26,000 for the program’s matching donations, with another $5,000 given by Hormel Foods.

Those interested in supporting the gift card program can go to Impact Austin’s website – impactaustintogether.org – and also visit the group’s Facebook page at:  www.facebook.com/impactaustinmn.

Photo by Jens Raffelson

Cedar Scenes participation

• This year, CRWD encourages people to submit the overall maximum of 36 photos whenever they want during the contest period; photos do not have to be submitted two at a time or weekly.

• All photos submitted tocan be used by the watershed district for future, nonprofit uses as a local government unit that communicates with and educates the public on the watershed and water-related issues.

• Cedar Scenes showcases the local waterways  including the Cedar River State Water Trail, Dobbins Creek, Rose Creek and others. The  CRWD will accept photos of other waterways outside of its political boundaries in the greater Cedar River Watershed in Minnesota. This includes Turtle Creek and the Little Cedar River.

• Photos can be submitted by email to tim@mowerdistrict.org or posted on the CRWD’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cedarriverwd –

• They can be new or old (historic photos are appreciated) but images must showcase a water-related scene (with or without people) in the Cedar River Watershed. Some photos, such as those showing a fish caught locally or a flower along a shoreline, that do not have water in them could count in the contest.

• All photos will be shared on CRWD’s Facebook page. Submitted images must be the person’s own photo or have been approved for submission by the photographer. Entries must include the submitter’s name, photo location (can be general) and date/month of the photo.

• Weekly winners will be announced on CRWD’s Facebook page. Prize distribution will be determined between CRWD and winners. The grand prize winner of the kayak needs to be at least age 18 or come with a parent or guardian to get the kayak.