SHERIDAN — According to The Nature Conservancy, the need for innovative conservation solutions has become a necessity as our planet comes to a crossroads. With a rapidly growing global population, there is a higher demand on food, water and energy around the globe and the time for change is now, the organization says.

Wyoming’s sector of The Nature Conservancy has created an unconventional tactic to pursue these goals by holding an annual youth photo contest to inspire children to protect the great outdoors.

Rikki Redman, a junior at Sheridan High School, won second place with a photograph she took over a year ago of a sunset at Lake Desmet after spending the day at the lake with her best friend.

“The picture makes me feel calm and serene almost,” Redman said. “I’ve taken a lot of pictures over the years but when I started looking through all of them I kept going back to this one because of the feeling I get when I look at it.”

Redman submitted four photos after her sister-in-law suggested she enter the competition.

“I said, ‘Why not?’ What’s the worst that could happen,” Redman asked. “So I was like yeah, I feel like I take some solid pictures so I submitted and just decided to full send.”

This is the 10th annual photo contest and anybody from 14 to 19 years old can submit four photos in four categories: Wyoming land, Wyoming waters, Wyoming wildlife and people in nature.

There were 512 total submissions this year that Bebe Crouse, Wyoming’s The Nature Conservancy director of communications, culled through to narrow down the best 100 photographs to submit to a panel of judges that consisted of professional and amateur photographers and The Nature Conservancy board members that chose first, second and third place for each category.

“We’ve received some really great photos and I think there’s clearly some very talented student photographers out there,” Crouse said. “I don’t know if anybody is thinking about being a professional but after seeing the talent and high quality in our youth around the state, I think it’s possible.”

Redman agreed that the winning photos were high quality and she was honored to see her photo amongst top picked photographs.

“There were some really cool photos up close and personal with animals and I just thought that was really cool,” Redman said. “When I was scrolling through all of the chosen pictures it was cool to see mine in the mix of them.”

Crouse said the photo competition embodies everything that the Nature Conservancy stands for.

“I think for us it’s really a nice way to get youth involved in conservation and creates a really personal way for them to be connected to nature, even if it’s through a photo,” Crouse said.

The Nature Conservancy program uses photos they deem usable to showcase their hard work. The competition offers youth the chance to become published artists, as The Nature Conservancy uses submitted photographs throughout their year in its projects.

Redman maintains that winning the contest has fueled her love for nature and photography. She plans to enter again next year and she encourages anyone interested to enter.

“Why not,” asked Redman. “What’s the worst that can happen?”

The Nature Conservancy is currently holding its international photo contest, information for which can be found on its website.

There are no restrictions based on age or location of the entrant.