We are incredibly impressed with the 75 videos people submitted for our inaugural LandIsMy.org video contest. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were buzzing with news of the contest, which accomplished its goal of helping land trusts engage their communities by generating 42,000 total votes. The energy and excitement — and the community engagement — it generated was awesome.
Congratulations go to Stephen Ramirez of San Marcos, Texas, as the contest's winner! His video, "Land is my Life," is a poetic montage of the many ways he experiences the land with those who are close to him, making it the foundation of his life.
Stephen will receive $4,000 for his entry, which was judged tops for originality. His video compellingly demonstrated how Stephen is connected to the land. Well done!
Coupled with this prize is the land trust designation for the grand prize of $10,000, which the Land Trust Alliance will present to the accredited Texas Land Conservancy, the land trust Stephen selected. Stephen works for the conservancy as its stewardship director.
Second place goes to Caleb Howard of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for his video, "Land Is My Soul," about our nation's breadbasket and its fertile soils, which feed both our bodies and our souls. Caleb receives $2,000 for his entry, which was lauded for its narration, connection of feeding people and souls and beautiful videography. He had designated Bur Oak Land Trust in Iowa City, Iowa.
Third place is awarded to Curt Johnsen of Rockford, Illinois, for his video, "Land Is My Sustenance," about the Nygren Wetland Preserve in Rockton, Illinois, which is owned and managed by Natural Land Institute. His video was praised for the passionate sense of place that it evokes and the compelling, personal stories it shares. Curt will receive a prize of $1,000.
A big thank you to all who entered and promoted the contest, and congratulations to our top three winners and the Texas Land Conservancy. Folks really had fun making their entries, telling us "This contest ended up being quite the soul-searching experience for me!" and "Thank you so much, I really enjoyed making my submission!"
And land trusts enjoyed the outreach opportunity, too. "We had a great time with this contest!" said one. Another told us, "We are aware of and excited to have someone select our land trust as their beneficiary and we are already promoting it."
The Alliance plans on holding this contest again next year, so keep your eyes peeled for the next announcement. We're hoping land trusts continue to use the opportunity to encourage their supporters to think about what the land does for them, and then engage others in the community to support the videos that designated them for the $10,000 grand prize.
Because when communities support their land trust, we all win.
Rob Aldrich is community conservation director for the Land Trust Alliance.