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Celebrating our world on Earth Day

April 28, 2021

For Earth Day, we invited Vermont Law School students to celebrate the beauty of the natural world. For two weeks in April, students submitted photographs they’d taken. The entries showcased the diversity of nature, from zebras communicating on the Serengeti to a dog relaxing on the rocks of the White River on a sunny day; from Alaskan glaciers to Puerto Rican beaches; and spectacular sunrises, sunsets, and moonlit nights. They depicted images from once-in-a-lifetime trips, from favorite spots for outdoor recreation, and from the day-to-day beauty that can be found right outside anyone’s front door. From all of the wonderful entries, six finalists were chosen for the community to vote on. The winner received a $100 gift card to Barrister’s Book Store, and the voting was so close that we named two runners up, each of whom received a $50 gift card to Barrister’s. We asked the six finalists about their images.

Lauren Wustenberg JD’21, first place winner

First place winner

Here’s what they had to say:

Caitlin Cournoyer JD’23, second place winner

Second place winner

“Summer 2012, I was a Coastal Brown Bear Biology Intern at Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska. One of my tasks was to observe these incredible animals and the impact that the presence of tourists has on the bears’ use of their ecosystem. The prime fishing spot for these bears was Brooks Falls. Tourists can stand on a raised platform to watch as the most dominant bears wait at the tip of the waterfall to catch the salmon that have traveled through the oceans for thousands of miles, only to be captured in the bear’s claws. The focus of the bears is almost meditative. Entrancing to the viewer. The bears seemingly unperturbed by their viewers. Instead, they remain focused, in total stillness, watching, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.” Lauren Wustenberg JD’21, first place winner


Mariana Muñoz JD’21, second place winner

Second place winner

“I submitted my photo of the Red Eye Tree Frog because this Earth Day, I believe we should all reflect on the differing ecosystems that make up our planet! Even though you won’t find a Red Eye Tree Frog anywhere near Vermont, it, like all animals, are vital to their respective biomes and must be preserved! I hope that my photo helps provide a glimpse of life outside of ours!” Caitlin Cournoyer JD’23, second place winner

“I took this picture at one of my new favorite places: McLane Creek Nature Trail near Olympia, Washington. During my four-month stay in Washington for a judicial externship, I would visit this trail to feel connected to my home in Vermont and all my loved ones, but also to admire and bask in the natural beauty of our world, which needs our help now more than ever.” Mariana Muñoz JD’21, second place winner

Rachael Bruketta JD’22

“This urban beekeeping photo depicts rooftop beehives on an office building I used to manage in Chicago. The bee boxes were installed to help these pollinators who produce so much of our fruits and vegetables, yet bee populations have been declining. Though the bees can travel a few miles from the hive for food, the building planted Illinois-native flowers, such as bee balm, to support the bees. The building had a dedicated beekeeper who maintained the hives and regularly met with office tenants to share information about beekeeping. A pretty sweet perk (pun intended) was that when the honey was harvested each autumn, the honey was distributed to tenants to enjoy the benefits of local honey!” Rachael Bruketta JD’22

Rob O’Kosky JD’23

“The spot I captured in the photo is where my husband and I got married in October. Every time we see it, I get butterflies thinking about our wedding day.” Ashely Monti JD’22

“I really found capturing small items in nature to be more telling than larger landscapes. I found this flower among an otherwise bulb-less bush and thought it deserved more attention. It really stood out as something so wonderful being present in an otherwise dim location.” Rob O’Kosky JD’23

Ashely Monti JD’22