Summer Photo Contest Winner Chosen; “Fall in Love With Your Park” is Final Theme

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AUSTIN— The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wrapped up the summer portion of the Texas State Parks Centennial Photo Contest, choosing a winner from more than 740 entries. The winning photo for the “Keepin’ it Cool at Texas State Parks” summer theme was taken by Heather Averill and features an otherworldly underwater view of Balmorhea State Park’s spring-fed pool.

Averill is the third seasonal theme winner and is automatically entered into the grand prize drawing at the end of the year. One more themed round winner remains this year before a public vote determines the grand prize photo from the finalists in December.

“The photo contest judges have been blown away by the creativity of the entries,” said Whitney Bishop, social media coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). “People have found such fun and unique ways to capture their special experiences as Texas State Parks."

Averill snapped the photo during a trip to Balmorhea with her family.

“We have visited Balmorhea State Park numerous times with our kids and absolutely love the wild underwater escape of the pool — it’s so unexpected in scorching hot west Texas,” said Averill. “We all enjoy swimming, especially deep dives and breath holding together. My daughter loves to dance underwater, and I am fascinated by underwater photography. We took this photo together while we were just having fun. We are super excited to have a winning photo, especially because it was created doing something we so love to do in one of our favorite places!”

The final quarterly theme is “Fall in Love With Your Park.” To participate, upload your entry at or enter on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtags #TexasStateParks and #TexasParks100 by midnight Nov. 27. (Note: an individual’s social media account privacy settings may affect entries.) Entries must be photographed at a Texas State Park or state natural area.

Participants may submit multiple entries. For details about the contest, including a link to the contest rules and a gallery of entries, visit the Texas State Parks website. A photo album of the winning photo and honorable mentions can be found on the TPWD Flickr account.

Each quarterly winner receives a Texas State Parks Pass valued at $70 and a $100 H-E-B gift card donated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF). Judges are looking for photos that illustrate positive experiences at Texas State Parks.

Voting for the grand prize photo begins in December. The winner will receive a Texas State Parks Pass, a $500 H-E-B gift card donated by TPWF and a VIP-curated experience at a Texas State Park.

For more information on the Centennial Celebration (including upcoming community events), the history of Texas State Parks and how to make a day visit or overnight reservation, visit the Texas State Parks 100 Years website at

Additional media resources for the Centennial Celebration can be found on the 100 Years Press Resources webpage on the TPWD website.