2015 NANPA College Scholarship Winners                                   Photo: Mark Larson

2015 NANPA College Scholarship Winners                                   Photo: Mark Larson

        Twelve strangers from across North America met for the first time in a room that would soon become a second home. We've been accepted as the 12 scholarship winners for the North American Nature Photography Association 2015 Summit. What I found most impressive, was that nearly all of us were aspiring scientists in various realms of biology. For myself, this was an entirely new experience. I'd never been surrounded by so many peers that had a love for wildlife photography and the education that goes along with it. Throughout the week we formed strong relationships that I envision carrying on for a long time. 

 Myself, Chris Johns, and Mitch Walters                                          Photo: Mark Larson

Myself, Chris Johns, and Mitch Walters                                          Photo: Mark Larson

        Once we all met we were immediately put to work, and given our task for the next few days. We had 5 days to shoot and edit a multimedia project for the US Fish & Wildlife Service about the wildlife refuge systems surrounding San Diego and their importance to the community, biodiversity, and a home for endangered species. During this project we were constantly learning from each other, and it was really great to see the enthusiasm when someone got their favorite shot of the day. As the week went on, less and less sleep was had. We'd wake up before sunrise, drive out to our first shooting location, and work until lunch. A quick lunch was had, and it was back to more shooting until the sun went down. I should now take the opportunity to thank Alice Robertson for keeping us alive and filling the role of the perfect travel mom a group could ask for. Having all of our meals laid out for us each day, we felt a tad spoiled. After dinner it was time to review the large amounts of footage and photos that had been shot that day, and begin the editing process. Many of us were up until 5AM the last nights of editing. A few had no sleep at all. 

 The crew in action                                                                          Photos: Mark Larson                                                                                                Composite: Matt Cicanese

The crew in action                                                                          Photos: Mark Larson
                                                                                               Composite: Matt Cicanese

        When we weren't working on the film, we got to attend some of the best talks I've heard in my life from speakers such as Dewitt Jones, Steve Winter, Nevada Wier, Frans Lanting, and Flip Nicklin. I think I speak for all of us that we were all taken aback by the magnitude of these talks. Each speaker had their own unique touch on photography, life, and the application of the photographic arts in preserving culture, wildlife, and nature. Dewitt Jones talk will stick with me for a very long time. A single line from his talk, "what are you willing to die for. Because you're doing it right now," has stayed with me everyday since that evening. To say that I feel motivated right now would be an understatement. I left San Diego with many new friends, and opportunities for the future. I hope to build these relationships closer and continue to further my photography to new and exciting experiences. Big thanks to everyone who participated and made this possible; Don Carter, Mark Larson, Ted Keller, Kari Post, Alice Robertson, Michele Westmorland, and Richard Day

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