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June 5, 2020

Arkansas people, places inspire young 4-H photographers

By Tracy Courage
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast Facts:

  • 4-H’ers photograph people, places and things in Arkansas for photo contest
  • Winning photographs can be viewed on the Arkansas 4-H Photography Facebook Page 
  • Contest named in honor of the late Jane Ross, philanthropist and photographer 

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LITTLE ROCK — Sevier County 4-Her Monica Rivas didn’t have to look far to find inspiration for a winning photo. Her black and white photo of trees along the Cossatot River won Best in Show in this year’s Ross Photography Contest, sponsored by Arkansas 4-H and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

BEST IN SHOW — Monica Rivas, a Sevier County 4-H member, won Best in Show in the 2020 Ross Photography Contest with this black and white landscape. (Image courtesy Monica Rivas.)

This year’s winners, announced June 1, were selected among 160 state entries from youth in 43 Arkansas counties. Many more youth participated in their county contests, with the county winners advancing to the state competition. All photos were required to be of people, places or things in Arkansas. 

“My favorite part of the contest each year is seeing the creativity these kids have,” said Kerry Rodtnick, who has coordinated the contest for the past 11 years for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “They find photographs in the best places — places you wouldn’t expect. You can tell some of them have a bright future in visual arts.” 

Rivas, 12, of DeQueen, entered four photos in the Sevier County competition this year – her first time to enter. Three of her four entries won first-place county awards, Sevier County 4-H agent Kim Frachiseur said. 

At the state level, prizes were awarded to the first-, second- and third-place winners in each of four categories with the Best in Show winner selected from the category winners: 

Black and White Living

1. Wapiti Mefford – Newton County
2. Daley Rogers – Grant County
3. Mason Ollar – Boone County 

Black and White Non-Living

1. Monica Rivas – Sevier County
2. Kailynn Garis – Conway County
3. Mason Ollar - Boone County 

Color Living

1. Emily Rhodes – Saline County
2. Rachel Newsom – Boone County
3. Hanna Cravens – Johnson County 

Color Non-Living

1. Daniel Latus – Independence County
2. Daniel Stevens – White County
3. Lilian Samuels – Madison County 

Best in Show

Monica Rivas – Sevier County 

Winners received cash prizes, funded by the Arkadelphia-based Ross Foundation. The late Jane Ross and her mother, Ester Clark Ross, established the foundation, which administers a philanthropic grants program and manages more than 60,000 acres of timberland, held for conservation purposes. Jane Ross served in the Women’s Army Corps in the Army Air Force as a photographic technician. She later operated a photography studio in Arkadelphia before she assumed the responsibilities of managing the family lands. 

“The state 4-H program is so thankful to the Ross Foundation for allowing us to reward our talented 4-H members each year,” said Angie Freel, associate department head for 4-H. “The 4-H members’ photography projects are enhanced by being recognized and having their work displayed.” 

The statewide contest is open to 4-H members ages 9-19. Winning photographs can be viewed on the Arkansas 4-H Photography Facebook Page.   

To learn about Arkansas 4-H, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media contact:
Tracy Courage
Director, Communications Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126