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Serving: KS

Ranchland Trust announces photo contest winners

P.J. Griekspoor Kansas ranch land
CONSERVING RANCHLAND: Ranchland Trust of Kansas is an agricultural land trust affiliate of the Kansas Livestock Association. Each year, RTK sponsors a photography contest, inviting submissions of photos that capture the beauty of the Kansas range.
The grand prize winning photo was taken at the Vestring Ranch south of Cassoday.

Dave Leiker of Emporia is the grand prize winner for the ninth annual Ranchland Trust of Kansas photography contest, which concluded Sept. 30.

Leiker’s winning photograph was taken at the Vestring Ranch south of Cassoday when he was on assignment for Kansas! Magazine.

“After I was let out of a pickup truck at the edge of the pasture, I walked across the grassland, moving quietly into their group as I studied their response,” Leiker says. “When I was low and quiet curiosity would draw them in toward me. If I stood and moved toward them, they would move away. Soon I felt like I could orchestrate their movements to get variety and action for the camera.”

He was drawn to a bond between two of the horses and watched for expressive moments as he captured his grand prize-winning image.

Dave LeikerDave Leiker grand prize winning photo of  two of the horses on the Vestring Ranch

TOP PRIZE: Dave Leiker shot this grand prize winning photo on the Vestring Ranch near Cassoday. He said he was drawn to the bond between two of the horses and watched for expressive moments.

“I found it beautiful how one pair moved together, a couple times displaying the head-press at the heart of this photograph. It was a good moment and I'm glad I could share it this way,” Leiker says.

Crystal Socha of Augusta won the Fan Favorite category by receiving 663 votes on RTK’s Facebook page. Her winning photo, titled “Caught in the Storm,” was taken in Morris County. The photograph truly depicts what it is like to be cowboy for a day.

“We were moving cattle this spring to summer pasture.” Socha says. “We got hit by a massive storm while on a couple thousand acres. It was not only pouring rain, but high winds, lighting and hail.”

A record number of photographs were submitted to the contest this year. The panel of judges narrowed the selection down to a Top 25 for the Fan Favorite category voting on Facebook. All other category winners were chosen by the panel of judges, along with RTK and Wolfe’s Camera representatives. The Facebook album was able to reach over 43,000 Facebook users, and nearly 6,000 votes were cast for the Fan Favorite category.

Additional winners in each category were:

Landscape. Tony Ifland, Cedar

Livestock. Marisa Betts, Russell

People. Collin Forrest, Conway Springs

KLA Member. Jake Pannbacker, Washington

Youth. Isaac Wilber, Wamego

Honorable Mentions. Greg Kramos, Manhattan; Mike Scheufler, Augusta; and Scott Bean, Manhattan

Each summer, RTK invites amateur and professional 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.”

Prizes, sponsored by Wolfe’s Camera of Topeka, are awarded to the Top 10 winning photographers. The photographs will be used, with permission of the photographers, to promote Kansas’ ranching heritage and open spaces.

Crystal SochaCrystal Socha's picture of a rancher on a horse with cattle caught in the rain won the fan favorite category of the photo contest

FAN FAVORITE: Crystal Socha of Augusta received 663 votes on RTK’s Facebook page to win the “Fan Favorite” category on the RTK photo contest, capturing this expressive photo which she titled “Caught in the Storm.”

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 directly at or contact Samantha Weishaar at

RTK is an agricultural land trust affiliate of the Kansas Livestock Association, with a mission to preserve Kansas’ ranching heritage and open spaces for future generations through the conservation of working landscapes.

Source: Ranchland Trust of Kansas, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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