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Rural Kansas Photo Contest adds two new categories, including an invitation to teen photographers

The contest, sponsored by KU Medical Center’s Rural Health Education and Services, aims to showcase the beauty of Kansas through photographs.

"Before the Storm" ©Alisha Owens, Stevens County. Dark storm clouds move over a wheat field.
"Before the Storm" by Alisha Owens of Stevens County, placed first in the Sun, Wind or Rain category in 2021.

Two new categories highlight the 2022 Rural Kansas Photo Contest, including “On the Farm” and a special category just for youth ages 13 to 17 to share their best photographs.

The contest, sponsored by Rural Health Education and Services at the University of Kansas Medical Center, commemorates what makes Kansas such a special space. But until this year, the contest had only been open to photographers ages 18 and over.

Inviting teen photographers

Jenifer Yuza, marketing and resource manager of Rural Health Education and Services, said she’s been fielding questions for years about adding a youth category. “Each year I receive inquiries about having youth participate in the contest,” Yuza said. To maintain the privacy of the minors who want to enter their photos, parents or guardians will need to enter on their behalf.

Contest categories

The contest is now open and accepting entries until Oct. 17, 2022. Categories include:

  • Best in Show (limited to one entry per photographer)
  • Sun, Wind or Rain
  • On the Farm
  • Healthcare in Kansas
  • Wildlife and Critters
  • Youth Category – Kansas Best in Show

For details about each category, visit the contest categories page. To enter photos, visit the contest page and choose submit photos.

Highlighting life on the farm

"Head to Head" ©Mark Alexander, McPherson County. Two bison stand head to head
"Head to Head," by Mark Alexander of McPherson County, won first place in the Wildlife & Critters category in 2021.

The second new category celebrates all things related to farms and ranches. “Some of our past contest winners had also suggested this as a possible category,” Yuza explained. “We want to showcase our farmers, farmland, livestock, barns, agriculture and general life on a farm. Farming is such an important industry to our state, and this year, we are proud to feature it.”

Cash and calendars

First-place winners in all categories except the youth category will receive $75, and second-place finishers will receive $35. One grand prize winner will be published as the cover image of the January 2023 “Kansas Country Living” magazine.

Winners also will be invited to submit their photos for a 2023 “Beauty in Kansas” wall calendar. The calendar sells to the public for $15, and proceeds from the sales are funneled back into the Rural Kansas Photography Contest.

“Last year was the first year for the calendar,” Yuza said. “It was fun, and photographers enjoyed having their photos featured, so we plan on doing it again this year.”

"This is So Much Fun" ©Tom Arnhold, Johnson County. Hummingbird flutters over colorful flowers
"This is So Much Fun," Tom Arnhold of Johnson County, won second place in the Wildlife & Critters category in 2021.

Growing in popularity 

Yuza said contest entries increase each year. In 2021, 265 photographers entered 1,384 photos, a hefty bump from the contest’s first go-round in 2006. That year, 12 photographers submitted 60 entries.

“The contest has really grown in popularity. For the past four contests, we’ve had more than 1,000 entries, and our collection of entries has grown to nearly 10,000 images,” she said.

Because Rural Health Education and Services is tasked with recruiting health care workers to Kansas, the office needed to showcase the wonders of the state and its people to recruits who have never been to Kansas. The photo contest was one way to gain exceptional Kansas images.

The office draws upon the collection to decorate its offices and clinics. “We also use them in our marketing material to feature Kansas as a great place for health care providers to live, work and play,” Yuza said. “There’s power behind the testimony of people who live in Kansas, but there’s also a lot of power behind these images of life in our state.”

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