Camano Close-Up Contest

Contest is now closed. Congratulations to everyone who entered — the experience of looking close up and then sharing is the biggest part of your reward and in that respect, all are winners! Thank you all. Inspiration is in the eye of the beholder; all are important in our backyard ecosystems. 

Photo by Paulette Brunner

We walk by things in our own backyard every day. Go slower!

In this contest, we invite you to show us something natural that we may see in our own backyard if we look closer. Plants, flowers, insects, feathers, rocks, fern spores, lichens, moss, tree bark … the possibilities are endless.

Submit a photo, drawing, poem, story or any other creative way to describe natural objects (formats we can accept include word, pdf, jpg, png, ppt).

Submit to by October 15, 2020 with “Backyard closeup” in the subject. You can also mail to the address at the bottom of this page. Please Include your contact details (name, address, phone, email) and age group (elementary, middle or high school, adult, retired). Please do not submit original artwork because we cannot guarantee safe return to you. 

Open to all ages. Maximum of two submissions per person. Microscope is lightly used. Free delivery of the microscope within Island, Snohomish and Skagit Counties. 

A few notes on going slower and observing nature:

Walking through your backyard you probably first notice the flowers.

Photo by Kelly Zupich

Photo by Kelly Zupich


Photo by P. Brunner

As the flowers form seeds look closer at the seed heads. Can you see seeds?

If you see a thin seed pod hold it up to the sunlight so the light shines through it. The seeds inside may surprise you.

Photo by P. Brunner

Leaves held up to the sun show the beautiful pattern of the veins.

Even black spot on rose leaves can add interest and color.

Photo by P. Brunner

Last years dried up leaves may have a nice pattern in the veins.

Why do you think this is the part of the leaf that remains?

Photo by P. Brunner

Look under leaves. You may see spores on ferns or eggs laid by insects or spiders. If you watch the egg clusters for a few days you might see what hatches.

No camera? No problem. Nature drawing or journaling is a great way to sit and watch your backyard. In this video, Whidbey Watershed Stewards describes finding your “sit spot.” 

For those with a poetic bent, no one says it better than Mary Oliver. See “A Poem a Day for American High Schools,” Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003 – Poem #133, The Summer Day by Mary Oliver. Let this poem inspire your poetry or prose. 

You can observe your backyard on a grander scale. Where is that beetle going as it trundles across the yard? Listen to to learn about trees in this HumaNature Podcast Interview with Lynda Mapes regarding her book, Witness Tree. Do you have a favorite tree or branch? 

Please share your experience of looking close up in your own back yard.