Congratulations to the 2015 NADO Photo Contest Winners!

2015_photo_logoThe 2015 NADO Photo Contest saw 27 of our member organizations submit over 120 images that showcased what makes their regions great places to live, work, and play.  Images were judged in four categories:  Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments, Building Vibrant Places, Investing in Our Regional Economy, and Sustaining Our Communities.  A “People’s Choice” winner was also chosen online by the public via our Facebook page.  Over 720 votes were cast!

Thanks again to all of our members who participated and congratulations to our winners!  Remember, it’s never too early to start snapping great photos for next year’s contest.   

To view all of the photos that were submitted in this year’s contest, click here.


Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments


Organization:  North Central Florida Regional Planning Council

The Story:  The Gainesville-Depot Avenue Trial is a 2.1-mile Rails to Trails project located in central Gainesville funded with Intermodal Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act enhancement funds.   The trail connects Depot Park, a contemporary public green space that serves as Gainesville’s “Central Park,” to the 16-mile Gainesville-Hawthorne Rail to Trail.  The Gainesville-Depot Avenue trail passes through historic residential neighborhoods and affords users opportunities for dog walking, in-line skating, mountain biking, road biking, running, and walking/day hiking.

Building Vibrant Places


Organization:  New River Valley Regional Commission (VA)

The Story:  Each year the New River Valley Regional Commission hosts an annual dinner for all the elected officials, chief administrative officials, planning commission chairs, and planning department heads in the region.  In the spring of 2015 the Commission formally announced a name change of the agency from ‘Planning District Commission’ to ‘Regional Commission.’  To introduce the new name and brand, the board of directors decided to transform the format of the dinner from a formal plated dinner into an informal food truck rodeo.  The Town of Floyd hosted the event outside at Hotel Floyd and several vendors from the Floyd Farmer’s Market offered to set up their booths.  The casual atmosphere provided by the food trucks and farmer’s market was a hit!  Over 100 attended so they could experience food, network with peers, and celebrate a community within the region.    

Investing in Our Regional Economy


Organization:  Association of Central Oklahoma Governments

The Story:  Bridgette, a Native Oklahoman and 3rd grader, celebrates a bell pepper she handpicked at Buffalo Creek Berry Farm in Mustang, Oklahoma. Mustang is one of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments’ 49 member entities. The farm represents Central Oklahoma’s growing agritourism attractions. Entrepreneurial farmers and ranchers open their gates to the public, allowing people to get in touch with a simpler time and taste the fruit of Oklahoma’s labor. Oklahoma agritourism includes Western Experiences, Land Bounty, Hunting, and Country Stays. 

Sustaining Our Communities


Organization:  Western Illinois Regional Council

The Story:  Western Illinois Regional Council-Community Action Agency provides Weatherization assistance to low-income individuals and families in a four-county region. Here Jeff Elam, Housing Specialist, is setting up the Minneapolis Blower Door to determine the air leakiness in this home.  The blower door test must be performed during the Weatherization audit in order to assess what work needs to be completed to improve air quality through ventilation, while reducing energy consumption and cost by minimizing air infiltration.  Over the past 23 years, the agency and its staff have weatherized hundreds of homes helping low-income families and individuals stay warmer in the winter months and cooler in the summer months.    

People’s Choice  


Organization:  South Western Oklahoma Development Authority  

The Story:  A young, entrepreneurial couple found their purpose in the small community of Sentinel, Oklahoma, when they remodeled an old car into the Red Barn Café and Drive Thru. As the only restaurant in Sentinel, it makes a positive impact on the tax base for this community of 900. This couple continues to support the community by purchasing and upgrading older homes to provide much-needed housing for area families. 


Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments


Organization:  Region Nine Development Commission (MN)

The Story:  The Wildwood Scenic Park, located just south of the City of Eagle Lake, MN, is a favorite spot among many, especially in the fall. Wildwood has a total of 28 acres in three parcels lying on alternate sides of the river. To retain the area’s natural state, the park only provides a parking area, nature trail, and canoe access to the river. Visitors can enjoy nature hikes, canoeing, fishing, and so much more at this beautiful scenic park. 

Building Vibrant Places


Organization:  Region 9 Economic Development District (CO)

The Story:  It was a beautiful summer day in Durango, Colorado as crowds gathered downtown for the 2015 July 4th parade.  With the street blocked off to traffic, a local toy store was demonstrating a Blast Pad Air Bolt Advanced Missile Launch System in the middle of Main Avenue.  The anticipation of the parade began to build, and the kids would squeal with excitement as the foamy toy missiles launched up into the sky.  It was a typical All-American 4th of July day filled with families and friends enjoying the moment!

Investing in Our Regional Economy 


Organization:  Tri-County Council for Western Maryland

The Story:  FireFly Farm was purchased by Michael Koch and Pablo Sonnet, a chef, in 1997.  Through creativity, artisanship, and connecting with chefs and farmers’ market customers, they successfully created their own variety of goat cheeses.  Located in Accident (Garrett County), Maryland, FireFly Farms Creamery and Market produces and markets award-winning goat cheeses created through the purchase of goat milk from six local farms.  Collective Good is the FireFly Farms goat milk purchasing exchange that ensures quality sources of fresh milk from valued local partners.  The market specializes in selling and pairing varieties of cheeses with wines, creating gift crates, and marketing other delectable treats for everyday dining and entertaining needs.   

Sustaining Our Communities


Organization:  Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District (OH)

The Story:  An Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission entitled the ‘Ohio River Medical Mission’ was held in Pomeroy, Ohio, during early June 2015. The Innovative Readiness Training is a Department of Defense program that provides training opportunities for branches of the US Military in preparation for possible deployment or event response. This particular mission provided no-cost medical, dental, vision, and veterinary services to the residents of Meigs County, Ohio and the surrounding areas. The event provided health care services to nearly 3,000 individuals over the ten day project period. Services were provided by Army Reserve Medical Units from Lexington, Kentucky, as well representatives from the U.S. Navy.  The vehicle shown in the picture is a mobile health clinic provided by the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. This vehicle was available at the IRT event and provided free health screenings, as well as breast and cervical screenings for residents. 



We hope you can participate in next year’s photo contest.  Start taking pictures now and show off the great things happening in your region!  Please direct any questions to Brett Schwartz at [email protected].


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Applications cannot be saved and returned to at a later time. It is recommended you compile all of your information in advance in a word processor and cut and paste into the application below.

2023 Impact Awards

The primary applicant must be a NADO member. Project partners, both NADO and non-members, can be recognized under "Project Partners" below.

Primary Project Contact:
This person will be the designated point of contact for all future awards-related correspondence.

Organization Address

Project Location (if different from Organization Address)

Executive Director

Additional Organizational Information
Please upload your organization's logo which will be included on the winning project award certificate.

Project Information
This title will be printed on the award certificate for winning projects and in all 2022 NADO Impact Award materials and cannot be changed.

Project Summary & Questions
Please craft clear, thoughtful, and engaging responses to the following questions. Use the following sections to tell us how your project has made an impact, such as its use of creative funding mechanisms, efforts to create efficiencies or reduce costs, unique partnership models, and emphasis on building resilience and/or enhancing your region's quality of life.

For award-winning projects, the information provided below may be used verbatim to inform project descriptions that will be published in the 2023 NADO Impact Awards materials and included on the NADO website.

Please submit at least one photo showing your project in action. Please keep file size to a minimum (<2Mb) and use JPEG format. If uploading multiple files, ZIP files prior to submitting. If you have trouble uploading images they can be directly emailed to Brett Schwartz at [email protected]. Include the project title they correspond to in the subject line of your email.

Note: Submitted photos may be used in NADO Impact Awards materials and in other NADO published materials with credit to your organization. Please also consider submitting photos for NADO's 2023 Photo Contest, which will be held this summer.

Your application is not submitted until you are directed to a confirmation page. If you have any questions or are unsure if your application has been submitted, please contact Brett Schwartz at [email protected]

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Joe McKinney serves as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Headquartered in Washington DC, NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s 500+ regional planning and development organizations.

Joe has thirty-one years of experience having served in city, county, regional, national association, and government management since 1991. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a candidate for a master’s degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

McKinney has provided congressional testimony on numerous occasions regarding the importance of regional development organizations in helping shape the nation’s economic growth. He is nationally recognized for promoting innovative solutions in areas such as planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, and aging services.

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