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Native Plant Initiative

NPI 2021 Native Plant Photo Contest

Submit photos!



Photos must be of plants native to South Dakota (as listed in the USDA plants database).

Any style photo (macro, landscape, etc) is acceptable if the identity of the plant is discernible. 

  • Identify plants with common or scientific name (or both).  
  • Photos may be taken in either a natural, wild setting or within a manmade, landscaped setting.
  • Do not include human likenesses and trademarked or other private property in the photograph.
  • Photos must be your own original work and not infringe any third-party rights.


The contest is open to both amateur and professional photographers 18 years of age or older.

Deadline for Submission

Entries must be received before November 22, 2021.

Entry fee

With each photo submitted, we are requesting a $5.00 minimum donation to the Native Plant Initiative. Donations will support the prizes and ongoing work by the Native Plant Initiative.


Six photos are allowed per person. You may submit all at the same time in one submission or on multiple submissions.

Naming Photo Files

Title the photo file with a description including your name plus the plant name. For example, a plant photo title could be: Gretchen Brown_Geum triflorum_prairie smoke.  Judges will not see your name during judging. DO NOT include your name in the photo (it will be cropped off). Other information including general location or description of the photo is encouraged.

Photo Credits

By entering their photographs, contestants grant South Dakota State University (SDSU) and the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) a no-cost, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, world-wide license to use, modify, edit, adapt, alter, and publish for nonprofit education, research, and any other purposes related to SDSU or SDBOR operations or programs. When NPI uses your photo for any purpose, you will be given photo credit.


Contest entries will be judged by a panel of NPI collaborators and stakeholders, with attention to authenticity in representation of native plants, creativity, and aesthetic appeal. First, second, and third place winners will be selected with cash prizes of $100, $50, and $25, respectively. A single submitter can only win one prize. Prize winners will be responsible for paying any taxes they may owe on a prize. Results will be announced on NPI social media and winners will be notified by email.

Photo format requirements

  • Any type of image file (tif, jpg, gif, or png) is acceptable.
  • There is a maximum file size of 100 megabytes per image.
  • Images should be in RGB or sRGB format.
  • All photographs should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization will be disqualified.
  • Acceptable changes include adjustments to color, contrast, brightness and sharpness; removal of dust and scratches; cropping; and use of HDR-High Dynamic Range.
  • Changes that are not acceptable include photo composites (combination of two or more photos, not of the same scene); the addition, duplication, deletion or moving of objects in the photos; or the use of artistic digital filters and effects. Examples of artistic filters and effects are watercolor, neon glow, posterizing, stained glass, and others which do not show the scene as it occurred in nature.

Contestant shall hold harmless and indemnify SDSU and SDBOR from any claim of copyright infringement or other intellectual property claim arising out of the display or use of the work.

About the Native Plant Initiative

Historically, native grasses and forbs (wildflowers) were abundant across the Northern Great Plains. Native plants are the foundation that supports insects, pollinators (including bees), birds, and wildlife. Loss of grasslands and invasive plants began to emerge as problems in the 1800s. Initially, managing vegetation was simply removing occasional invasive plants from a background of native plants. However, now our grasslands are so heavily impacted that management can be envisioned as restoring native plants in a background of invasive species. Further, so few grasslands remain that we need to maximize the biodiversity of native plants in every area possible. These areas include private and public lands such as grasslands, wetlands, woodlands, farms, ranches, parks, yards, and urban areas.

This new reality requires a more thorough understanding of native plant restoration and production than currently exists for native plants in the Northern Great Plains.

The Native Plant Initiative is sponsored by the Department of Natural Resource Management (NRM), the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Sciences (AHPS) and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). This Initiative is led by Dr. Lora Perkins in the Department of Natural Resource Management.


To support the use of native plants in private and public lands in the Northern Great Plains through research, education, and outreach


  • Abundant and diverse native plants providing ecosystem services and natural heritage throughout the Northern Great Plains
  • Engaged stakeholders, excited collaborators, and an educated public involved in expanding native plant use region-wide
  • Vibrant and profitable native plant material production, distribution, and trade supporting the expanded use of native plants region-wide 

2020 Native Plant Photo Contest Winners


First winner: Purple Prairie Clover by Cynthia Bergsbaken

Purple Prairie Clover

Second winner: Anemone; Patens; Pasque Flower by Emily Mack

Photographed at sunset in a native prairie Codington County

Third winner: Cypripedium montanum (mountain lady’s slipper orchid) by Daryl Mergen

Cypripedium montanum (mountain lady’s slipper orchid) is a rare orchid in South Dakota. It was first reported in 2008 within the Black Hills and may only be known from three locations. Each location with only a few plants. Their flower structures are unique and require an insect of a specific size to enter the slipper (pouch) in order to collect pollen.

Special winner: Hoksi Cekpa; Pasque Flower; Pulstilla by Kahomy Souksavath

Hoksi Cekpa Pasque Flower Pulstilla


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