Celebrating the Garden Through Photography

Fourth Annual “Images of Lincoln Memorial Garden” Photo Contest

by Kathy Andrews Wright


Winners have been announced in the 2020 “Images of Lincoln Memorial Garden” Photography Contest. The annual contest encourages Garden visitors to share their perspectives and experiences of visits to the Sangamon County site.

The votes have been tabulated, and the 2020 People’s Choice winner is nine-year-old Cooper Appenzeller, whom judges selected as the first place winner in the 15 and Under Living Creatures Category. Judges were entranced by Cooper’s photograph of a mallard family perched on a log and appreciated the detail and excellent exposure of a special moment between a mother and her ducklings.

“Cooper hasn’t been exposed to an actual ‘camera’ yet and took the impromptu mallard family photo with a phone,” explained his grandmother, Cindy Appenzeller. “We go to Lincoln Memorial Garden almost weekly, and he thoroughly enjoys all of our hikes!”

“I was blown away by the number of entries this year,” remarked contest judge Dannyl Dolder. “In these uncertain times, it is nice to see so many people pick up a camera and actively seek the beauty that still exists. I enjoyed seeing the many creative and sometimes humorous perspectives of this Garden. Keep exploring and sharing your images!”

A new category for the 2020 contest, “Celebrating Life at Lincoln Memorial Garden,” proved especially poignant.

“The Garden is an integral part of the lives of area residents who normally attend the multitude of annual events and programs hosted at the Garden, and it provides a spectacular backdrop for photographs documenting significant events in a person’s life,” LMG Executive Director Joel Horwedel explained. “This year, the Garden became a respite from the COVID-19 restrictions that were enacted and we were so pleased that many community members valued the Garden as a place to unwind and recharge, and that they took the time to photograph their experiences and discoveries in nature.”

The contest included three additional categories: Living Creatures, Wildflowers and Landscapes.

The 2020 contest shattered participation records, with a 57 percent increase in the number of images submitted (compared to 2019) and triple the number of participants.

Usually the judging process involves gathering at the LMG Nature Center over coffee and apple cider donuts, with a lively discussion and good-humored banter among the judges as they lobby each other to examine the details of their favorite photos. In the year of COVID-19, the process was quieter, with the judges individually viewing PowerPoint presentations to score the 423 images submitted by 85 photographers, followed by a Zoom meeting to discuss the highest scoring images and finalize their decisions.

“We sincerely thank all the participants and the judges for their patience as we developed a new, pandemic-friendly review process,” Cathy Slater, President of the Lincoln Memorial Garden Foundation said. “Even the selection of the People’s Choice photo, normally a vote during our annual fall festival, was revamped to an electronic voting process.”

The 2020 judges were Dannyl Dolder, Registrar of Art and Photographer at the Illinois State Museum; John Muchow, local professional photographer and Dick Adorjan, a photojournalist, retiree from the Illinois Department of Transportation and former member of the Lincoln Memorial Garden Board of Directors.

“We had such a large number of good photographs that judging was a happy challenge,” said Dick Adorjan. “The images illustrated the diversity and beauty of the Garden, and it is always a joy to experience the Garden through the eyes of others.”

“I was pleased to see so many people go out and take photos during the pandemic lockdown,” John Muchow remarked. “The Garden is a great location to spend time with the family and experience nature.”


People’s Choice: Cooper Appenzeller (mallard family on a log)


Youth, 15 and Under


Celebrating Life:






First Place: Gianna Johnson (girl on bench reading book)

Honorable Mentions:

Laiken Batten (Lincoln parking sign)

Brady Bosworth (hiker on trail)

Brady Bosworth (two people sitting on bench)








First Place: Laiken Batten (view of Lake Springfield)

Honorable Mentions:

Sophia Fernandez (mushrooms)

Grace Lipe (dewy leaves)

Adira Nelson (view through splintered wood)

Leah Russell (leaf)


Living Creatures:






First Place: Cooper Appenzeller (mallard family on log)

Honorable Mentions:

Sophia Fernandez (butterfly on leaf)

Leah Russell (praying mantis)

 Anders Schnell (spider)








First Place: Ella Krueger (closeup of yellow flower)

Honorable Mentions:

Ella Krueger (blazing star)

Adilene McCulloch (yellow flower)

Gwen Nelson (thistle flower)


Adult, 16 and over


Celebrating Life:






First Place: Tammy Miller (boys at Cypress Beach)

Honorable Mentions:

Lindsey Batten (boy at beach)

Cynthia Gallo-Callan (pans at Maple Syrup Days)

Erin Rothfus (four children at lakeshore)

Scott Sharkey (taking a photograph of deer)

Phillip Wheat (jumping for joy by bench)








First Place: Patty Biggers (sunset view of lake)

Honorable Mentions:

Allen Davis (Walgreen Bridge)

Michael Walwer (maple leaves)

Phillip Wheat (Cypress Beach)


Living Creatures:






First Place: Phillip Wheat (pelican)

Honorable Mentions:

Benjamin Chapman (frog in duckweed)

Tammy Miller (tiger butterfly)

Anne Scrivner (bluebird with nesting material)

Anne Scrivner (mallard standing on turtle)

Anne Scrivner (snapping turtle)








First Place: Amanda Castelman (closeup of dogwood flower)

Honorable Mentions:

Amanda Castleman (closeup of bluebell)

Tammy Miller (mushroom holding water)

Beth Stooksbury (arching green plant)

Cydney Walter (snow-dusted mayapples)

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