Local photography contest announces winners

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Tom Neumeyer's "Columbine Blossom" took third place in the professional category at this year's Mingo Photo Contest.

Cape Girardeau photographer Tom Neumeyer is a nature lover. And one of his favorite places to view and photograph nature in the region is Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in Stoddard County near Puxico, Mo.

"It's so rare to have something like that in this area, where people can see what the land was like until just a few generations ago," Neumeyer said of the 21,676-acre refuge, much of it bottomland hardwood swamp.

Neumeyer, a professional photographer currently working on a photo book called "Cape Girardeau Then and Now" about Cape Girardeau's landmarks said his love of Mingo prompted him to enter the second-annual Mingo Flora and Fauna Photography Contest this year. Along with several other locals, Neumeyer was announced Monday as one of the contest's winners.

The contest began last year, the brainchild of the Mingo Swamp Friends -- a group of residents who volunteer to improve and increase awareness of the refuge. Swamp Friends officer and Chaffee, Mo., artist Aaron Horrell was instrumental in creating the concept and organizing the contest. Professional and amateur photographers, adults and children can enter any of several categories. Photographs must be of plants or animals native to Mingo, or in the case of the landscape category, a scene at the refuge.

The contest helps meet the refuge system's public outreach mission, said refuge ranger Vergial Harp. Part of that mission is to encourage photography as a public use, he said. Drury Hotels of Cape Girardeau sponsored the contest, Harp said.

More than 100 entries came in last year. This year the refuge received 130 entries, with the opening up of a youth category being largely responsible, Harp said. The entries came from Missouri and Illinois, with Columbia, Mo., photographer Glenn Chambers capturing best of show.

Teresa Gemeinhardt of Anniston, Mo., in Mississippi County took alternate best of show. Now retired, Gemeinhardt discovered Mingo decades ago as a college student. She remembers her first experience there, a field trip where some students studying reptile science captured a rattlesnake.

"It's a wonderful place to find a huge variety of wildlife and flowers and trees," said Gemeinhardt, a professional photographer like Neumeyer who currently has photos on display at the Cape Girardeau County Nature Center in County Park North. "Just the whole ecosystem there is very rare. It's an amazing place to visit."

Both Neumeyer and Gemeinhardt said they hope the contest will prompt more people to visit the refuge and preserve its sights through photography.

For more information on Mingo visit www.fws.gov/midwest/mingo/.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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