NGRREC Announces Winners for World Water Day Photo Contest

Article by: Jared Smilack, L&C Marketing and PR,


EAST ALTON – The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC℠) is announcing the winners of its inaugural World Water Day photography competition.

The submission period, which closed Feb. 14, saw an overwhelming response, with more than 150 captivating photo entrees.

“This year’s participation exceeded all expectations of the NGRREC team, highlighting the community's deep engagement with water conservation and appreciation for the beauty of the natural environment,” said NGRREC Environmental Educator Jolena Pang.

The judging committee consisted of three local experts: Marty McKay, Alton-based professional photographer; Jeffrey Vaughn, renowned painter, photographer, and retired Lewis and Clark Art professor; and Leslie Gittemeier, wildlife biologist and professional photographer. 

The committee evaluated each submission to identify the most compelling and visually striking images, and the event organizers ensured a fair and anonymous judging process.

NGRREC extends heartfelt congratulations to the following talented photographers whose exemplary work has been recognized and celebrated:

Overall Winner: Dale Fehr, "Glory Eagle"

Category Winners:

  • Scenic Category: Dale Fehr, "Mississippi Daisies"
  • Culture Category: Mary Pisoni, "Fog on the Water"
  • Wildlife Category: John F. Sullivan, "Green Heron"
  • NGRREC/LC Category: Danelle Haake, "Foggy Paddle"
  • High School Category: Abigale Barton, "Harmony Above"


  • Scenic Category (tie): Robert Charity, “Cuivre Slough” and Henry Matthiessen III, "Cloud Gods Rise"
  • Culture Category: Jerry Miller, "Past and Present"
  • Wildlife Category: Jian Xu, "Majestic Hunter"
  • NGRREC/LC Category: Hannah Griffis, "Muskrat in Pond"
  • High School Category (tie): Logan Bourbon, "Peace" and Anderson Politte, "Beauty of the River"

NGRREC commends all winners for their exceptional creativity and vision, vividly capturing the essence of Illinois waterways and their significance to local communities.

As part of the celebration, 50 of the highest-scoring photos selected by the judges will be featured in a special exhibit. Opening night will be 5-7 p.m., March 20 at the Jerry F. Costello Field Station in East Alton.

Stay tuned for further details and contact Pang at with any inquiries.

“Once again, congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to everyone who participated in our inaugural NGRREC World Water Day Photo Contest,” Pang said.

Event info and registration:

About National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC℠)

NGRREC is dedicated to the study of great river systems and the communities that use them, facilitating the efficient implementation of science into policy and practice. Founded in 2002 as a collaborative partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Lewis and Clark Community College, the center aspires to be a leader in scholarly research, education, and outreach related to the interconnectedness of large rivers, their floodplains, watersheds, and their associated communities.

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