Excellence in children’s programming honored

McALLEN — The Valley Land Fund and Quinta Mazatlan won a state award for excellence in children’s programming.

The award was presented through the Texas Festival and Events Association conference. The award-winning program is the summer youth nature photo contest titled “Southern Exposures.”

Nature photography is a powerful tool in the effort for conservation. Southern Exposures gets kids outdoors looking for subjects, discovering angles and engaging in an adventure, said Debralee Rodriguez, executive director of the Valley Land Fund.

“Viewing the natural world through a camera lens provides a unique perspective that our children may not normally have considered,” Rodriguez said.

The youth nature photo contest has been going on for eight years, inviting amateur photographers between the ages of 6 and 18 to submit photos taken in the Rio Grande Valley during the months of June and July.

“The contest is a natural wellspring for young people to learn about our South Texas wildlife and habitat,” VLF Board President Dennis Burleson said.

There are various categories ranging from Mammals & Birds to Ranches & Farms. The youth contest awards ceremony for the 2016 summer participants will take place on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. at Quinta Mazatlan.

“Throughout the contest, children develop new skills and an appreciation for the natural world,” said Colleen Hook, manager of Quinta Mazatlan. “By encouraging participants to use cameras, smartphones or tablets to document the wild world around them, more participants continue to enter the educational contest and more participants become stronger stewards of the land.”