Garden for WildlifeTM Photo Contest
Help & FAQs

General Questions

The Garden for WildlifeTM Photo Contest (GFWPC) to all photographers worldwide who are at least 13 years of age, except employees and board members of NWF, their immediate families and individuals living in the same household as such employees and board members. NWF reserves the right to verify, in its sole judgment, entrant eligibility. Entrants ages 13 to 17 years of age are eligible to submit photographs but must obtain verified parental or guardian consent. NWF reserves the right to verify, in its sole judgment, entrant eligibility.
Native plants are the plant species that are naturally found in your region.  They're the plants that wildlife need to survive. Through our Garden for Wildlife - Certified Wildlife Habitat program we encourage people to plant native plants in their yards and gardens to provide natural habitat for wildlife that can easily co-exist with people (birds, butterflies, bees, frogs, etc.)You can learn more here:
No, we invite entrants from all over the world to enter

Opens: August 9, 2021

Closes: October 24, 2021

A selection of the winning photographs and honorable mentions will be published in the April-May 2022 Garden for Wildlife issue of National Wildlife magazine.

Your fee helps support NWF's work to protect wildlife and wild places.
The National Wildlife Federation greatly appreciates when photographers choose to donate some of their images. These donations help support our mission to protect wildlife and habitats. If you wish to donate image(s) to the National Wildlife Federation for use in furthering its mission, please check the appropriate box for each image during the uploading process. By donating the image(s) to NWF, donor assigns NWF a joint ownership interest in image(s) under Copyright laws. You retain all right and title to the image(s) as a joint owner. By checking the box and agreeing to donate the image(s) to NWF, you agree all writing and signature requirements under the law are satisfied. NWF greatly appreciates all image donations, which will be used to support NWF’s charitable mission. Click here for further explanation.

Grand Prize: $1,000.00

Runner-Up: $500.00

Category Winners: One winner from each of the five categories will receive a 12-pack Garden for Wildlife Native Plant Collections ($118 value) 

Runner-Up Category Winners: One winner for each of the five categories will receive a 6-pack Garden for Wildlife Native Plant Collections ($68 value) 

Honorable Mentions: National Wildlife Federation Calendar

All winning images will be published on our web sites and promoted throughout NWF's social media channels.

This is a separate contest from the National Wildlife® Photo Contest and previous Garden for WildlifeTM Photo Contests. Everyone must create an account to enter.
Yes, students age 13-17 are eligible to enter the National Wildlife Photo Contest through our partnership with Eco-Schools USA. Please see our photo contest page for educators and students for further information.
CATEGORIES: Photographers must enter each image in one of the following categories. The same photo cannot be entered in more than one category. Judges reserve the right to switch images to other categories.

i. People in the Wildlife Garden: People of all ages observing wildlife, planting habitat, enjoying the habitat garden and participating in sustainable practices. (Includes portraits in your garden, working in the garden, kids in the garden). 
ii. Certified Wildlife Habitat Landscapes: Includes one or more of the habitat elements listed below. 

Food  -  i.e. native plants, nectar providing plants for pollinators, berries, nuts, seeds, artificial feeders such as bird or humming bird feeders, and more. 

Water – i.e. backyard ponds, water garden, bird baths, and puddling dishes, and more.

Cover – i.e. native plants, wooded area, evergreens, meadows, prairies, and ground cover, toad abodes, and roasting boxes, rock and brush piles and more.

Places to Raise Young – i.e. mature trees, meadows and prairies, wetland, host plants, dead trees or snags, dense shrubs and thickets, and more.

Sustainable gardening – riparian buffers, ground cover, terraces, rain gardens, use of native plants, reduced lawns, composting, rain barrels, and more.

Certified Wildlife Habitat sign – photos of the sign in wildlife habitat garden landscapes, with native plants, or with wildlife. Please do not submit photos of sign without other garden elements or wildlife included.  Bonus points awarded to photos including a sign.

iii. Wildlife Observations Where People Live, Work, Play, Learn and Worship: Portraits and behavior of wildlife in your wildlife habitat. Examples: birds, butterflies, native bees and other pollinators, small mammals, amphibians
iv. Close-up Native Plants and their wildlife visitors. Close up photos of native plants that provide, food, cover, or places for wildlife to raise young.
v. Young Habitat Photographers. Photos taken by photographers ages 13 to 17. 

This public competition will open on August 9,2021 and close October 31, 2021. Anyone thirteen (13) years of age and older can vote by registering with a name, email address, and creating a password. Voters must agree to the rules for voting by checking the appropriate box. Photo Contest entrants can use the same credentials to log in and vote.

All the photos displayed in the gallery are allowed to be shared via social media and are eligible for voting. Voters can vote once per single photo, for as many photos as they wish. Voters may return to the public gallery to vote as many times as they wish for the duration of the People’s Choice Award contest using your registered email and password.

Entry Step-By-Step

Click here to download.
(After the download, the PDF entry guide may be in your "Downloads" or "My Downloads" folder in your computer.)

Questions About Entries

Technical requirements: Camera-made digital images or scans of slides or prints must be uploaded as jpg, gif or png files. There is a maximum file size of 50 megabytes per image. Images should be in either sRGB or RGB format. Smart phone entries are acceptable if submitted as full sized images and meet the pixel requirement of 1600x1600.

What photos qualify: We are looking for striking color images that show the impact of habitat gardens, on wildlife and people—in urban, suburban and rural settings on  land, in the air and in the water or on the water’s surface. These images may show animal behavior, portraits of wildlife in natural habitat, plant life, natural landscapes, or people interacting with nature.
"Upload" is to select an image from your computer and send it to the photo application/entry page and complete relevant information about the photo. "Submit" is the final stage to send the image to be judged. Please note that photos are not actually entered into the contest or made viewable by others or sharable until the contest fee is paid.
Do not include photographs of pets or domestic animals. Images of captive animals photographed in game farms or roadside zoos, or animals from these facilities photographed elsewhere with handler’s control, will be disqualified.

Captive animals photographed in major zoos, wildlife research facilities or rehabilitation centers are acceptable. Clearly label these animals as captive in the Subject box when uploading and provide details in the Story box.

Previously published photos may be entered; however, please include information on when and where the photos appeared. Winning photos from other competitions may also be entered, but include the name of the contests and the years they won. Such information is informative only and will not influence judges’ decisions.


No, each photographer must agree to the contest rules and therefore is required to submit their own work individually. To recognize your group, please note in your photo entry submission any relevant club or group information.


Yes. Acceptable adjustments are: color, contrast, brightness and sharpness; removal of dust and scratches; cropping; and use of HDR (high dynamic range), where multiple exposures of the same scene are combined for a greater tonal range. Not acceptable are photo composites (combination of two or more photos, not of the same scene); the addition, duplication, deletion or moving of objects in the photos; or the use of artistic digital filters and effects. Examples of artistic filters and effects are watercolor, neon glow, posterizing, stained glass, and others which do not show the scene in its natural way.


Yes. Your photo can be watermarked. It is recommended that the watermark not interfere with the scene of your photo.


Each photo entered into the Garden for Wildlife Photo Contest is automatically entered for the People’s Choice Award, viewable in the gallery for voting by the public and sharable with family and friends through social media. If you do not wish to enter your photo into the People’s Choice Award contest, at time of entry the appropriate box must unchecked for each photo in the submission form. Unchecking this box means your entered photo will be seen only by Garden for Wildlife Photo Contest judges and not available for viewing in the public gallery.

This public competition will open on August 9, 2021 and close October 31, 2021. The photo with the top votes at the end of the people’s choice voting period will be named the People’s Choice Award winner, and a selection of top vote-getting images will appear on the Garden for Wildlife webpage and be promoted through NWF's social media channels. You can promote your entered images on social media by using the Share button at bottom left of each thumbnail.

Registering or Resetting User ID and Password

If you forget your user ID or password, you can retrieve it from the login page.

Technical Difficulties Uploading Photos

No, you may upload some of them and then return to the upload more at a later time. After a photo has been submitted, it cannot be edited nor deleted. However, if an entry has not been submitted to be judged, it will be marked as "Incomplete" and photo information can be edited and categories switched.
We will not be accepting photographs by mail.
First and foremost, save a backup of the originals. Software such as Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Microsoft Office Picture Manager will help you resize and save copies of your images. Look for resize or adjust size in the menus. There are also a number of online resources for resizing photographs.
Accepted entries cannot be deleted. Images that has the status of either "Completed" or "Incomplete" can be deleted or modified. To modify an entry click on the entry's title to open its Photo Details page and replace old photo information and upload a replacement photo, then resubmit it as a new entry.

There are a few indicators on your Entries & Payment page.

  • Accepted:  Denotes a successful submitted image. Entry cannot be edited or deleted.
  • Completed: Denotes entry needs to be submitted to the judges by clicking on the “Submit” button, this will turn the status to “Accepted”.
  • Incomplete: Denotes the entry’s application form is not completely filled out, click on the entry’s title to open and fill out missing information on the Photo Details form.  Then Submit the entry to be accepted.
  • Instead of deleting an incomplete image you don't want, click on the image's Entry Title and replace it with a new upload.

Didn't find your questions here? Please do not hesitate to contact us.


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PO Box 1583, Merrifield VA 22116-1583
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