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Local man wins first place in prestigious national contest with this photo


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Kirk Geisler took this photo of a short-eared owl at Camas National Wildlife Refuge in 2015. It won first place in a photo contest sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation. | Kirk Geisler, 2019 National Wildlife Photo Contest.

RIGBY – Kirk Geisler has enjoyed taking pictures of wildlife for the last 15 years or so, but he never thought one of his photos would receive national attention.

Geisler submitted a photo he’d taken of a short-eared owl at Camas National Wildlife Refuge several years ago in a contest sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation.

He entered the contest in March and was informed last month that his photo took first place in one of eight categories.

“It’s a great achievement for me. I never really thought it would happen. I love to be out in nature. Most of the time I go by myself, but I love Camas Wildlife Refuge,” Geisler tells

Geisler’s photo took first place in the bird category. The other seven categories included Mammals, Insects & Other Invertebrates, Underwater Wonders, People in Nature, Amphibians & Reptiles, Landscapes & Plants, and Youth. The prestigious contest drew more than 23,000 entries from across the globe. Geisler is one of 17 winners chosen among six countries and 10 states.

“They sent me an email saying I was in the top 40 of 23,000. That was in September. Then in October, they officially told me I had won in the bird division,” Geisler says.

Geisler wasn’t able to tell anyone the news for a month, prior to the release of National Wildlife Magazine’s latest issue in November. But now that word is out, he’s excited to tell people that his photo will be one of 50 on display at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in downtown Washington, D.C.

“The exhibit will feature 50 images from around the world that celebrate the power of wildlife photography and the role it can play in inspiring conservation,” Geisler’s invitation says.

The exhibit will run from Nov. 2019 through Feb. 2020. Geisler and his wife, Sally, have been invited to attend a reception and open house of the display on Nov. 20.

“Each winning photograph tells a moving story that reminds us of the wonders of nature and why we must fight to protect it,” National Wildlife Magazine Editor-in-chief Lisa Moore says in a news release. “We appreciate wildlife photographers who devote their time and talent to creating beautiful images ethically made in the wild. They can help us all feel a profound connection to the creatures who so desperately need our help to survive.”

In addition to having his work on display in Washinton, D.C., Geisler was also awarded $500. He also entered the photo into the annual Beehive Federal Credit Union calendar contest. The photo will be featured in their calendar next year. Copies of the calendar will be available at any Beehive Branch around Thanksgiving.

Geisler works as a supervisor at Artco in Rexburg. Photography has become a hobby for him over the years, and he particularly enjoys capturing wildlife and landscapes.

“I love Camas Wildlife Refuge,” Geisler says. “It’s an amazing place to go and see nature without people hunting. It’s a reserve, so you know it’s safe there and you can get pretty close.”

Geisler sells many of his photos to various stock agencies and posts many of them on Flickr and Facebook.

The 2019 National Wildlife Photo Contest is the National Wildlife Federation’s 48th annual contest. The 49th annual contest begins in January and is open to anyone. More information will be posted on their website as the date gets closer.