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Winners of RTK photo contest announced
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Crystal Socha - Grand Prize - Sunset over the prarie

Winners have been announced for the Ranchland Trust of Kansas (RTK) photo contest, which concluded Sept. 1. Each summer from May to September, RTK invites photographers of all ages to submit photos that showcase the mission of RTK and Kansas’ ranching heritage. The mission of RTK is: “To preserve Kansas’ ranching heritage and open spaces for future generations through the conservation of working landscapes.”
Crystal Socha of Augusta was the grand prize winner in this year’s contest. Her winning photo, titled “Sunset over the Prairie,” was taken in the Flint Hills about 20 miles east of El Dorado.
“I was so excited to hear that I won grand prize. I almost fell off my chair when I heard the news. I was hoping I’d place somewhere, but I never dreamed I’d get this!” said Socha.
This photo was unique to the panel of judges because of the color and attention to detail. A guest judge said, “The way she made the brown winter grass look so elegant and beautiful is not easy to do, we had to reward her for capturing this beautiful sunset over the prairie.” Socha was able to capture the sun at the right moment to highlight the amber colored native prairie and rolling Flint Hills.
Bruce Hogle of Overland Park was the Fan Favorite category winner with a record-breaking 383 votes on RTK’s Facebook page for his photo titled “Starry, Starry Night.” Over 4,000 votes were cast for the Fan Favorite category, which included the top 25 photos chosen by RTK’s panel of judges. The Facebook album was able to reach nearly 15,000 Facebook users.
Additional winners in each category were: Landscape – Scott Bean, Manhattan; Livestock – Kerstin Mitchell, Syracuse; People – Alan Hutchins, Kansas City, Mo.; KLA Member – Jonathan Cutler on behalf of Jim and Joe Bichelmeyer of Silkville Ranch, Williamsburg; Youth – Ethan Kneisler, Lyndon; and Honorable Mention – Mike Scheufler, Andover; James Bartlett, Lecompton and Carlton Heller, Emporia. All winning entries can be viewed on RTK’s website or Facebook page.
Prizes, sponsored by Wolfe’s Camera of Topeka, are awarded to the top 10 winning photos. The photographs will be used, with the permission of the photographers, to promote Kansas’ ranching heritage and open spaces.
RTK will have photo stationery cards for sale throughout the year featuring the 10 winning photos. Printed on premium cardstock, the folded cards are blank inside and come in packs of 10 with white envelopes. The card packages can be purchased for $20 by contacting Samantha Weishaar at 785-273-5115 or