Joliet woman shares the magic of nature with winning photo

Joliet resident Michelle Wendling won June’s portion of the Forest Preserve District’s Preserve the Moment Photo Contest with a stunning shot of sunlight streaming through the trees at Hadley Valley preserve.

“I went to Hadley Valley specifically because it was a misty morning and Hadley always has the best fog/mist around,” Wendling said in an email after being notified of her win. “The sun came up over that mist right as I was passing this little group of trees and the most beautiful rays of light came shining through. It was amazing.”

Wendling said she enters the contest because she loves taking pictures of nature in Will County. “I love the preserves in the area and I love sharing the magic I experience in them,” she said.

Her photo won the most votes on Facebook after being chosen as one of five finalist photos by judges. Honorable mentions were given to: Byron Morgan of Crete, Bertrand Leclercq of Naperville, Mark Hanna of Romeoville and Jo Anne Saleme of Naperville.

Monthly winners will continue to be chosen through December. Every entrant receives a participation gift, and monthly winners are awarded $75 Visa gift cards. Once the contest concludes on Dec. 31, the eight monthly winners will vie for overall honors via Facebook voting. The top photos will receive gift cards of $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $150 for third place. All prizes are funded by The Nature Foundation of Will County.

For a full list of rules and information on how to upload photos to enter the contest, visit To view all photo contest entries, visit the District’s Flickr account at