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A photograph taken by a local resident while on a journey to the world's southernmost continent has been the recipient of nationwide recognition due to the interest shown by a Farmington horticultural organization.

Peggy Ropelle’s trip to Antarctica was a source of intense interest to fellow members of the Nancy Weber Garden Club, who asked her to make a presentation during one of its meetings.

“I went to Antarctica in February-March 2017," Ropelle said. "It was called an expedition. We were on a ship, it was similar to a cruise ship, except all of the entertainment areas were where we had our daily lessons, lectures on everything from the environment to wildlife.

"The ship is different because of the area where it traveled, like crossing the Drake Passage. We were the second to the last trip before they shut down for the season. We had 180 people, which is close to the largest number of people that they would take.

“It was interesting because there were people from all over the world with all different interests. We had a man from Israel who was a professional photographer and did stuff for National Geographic. We had a group of four sisters. One of the sisters was from Oklahoma and celebrating her 80th birthday.

"She said that as soon as she set one foot on that continent, she will have done all of the continents. The expedition leader in his opening remarks said for most of you, this will be something you will feel in your heart for the rest of your life. It was something totally foreign and totally new, it was just amazing to see the pristine nature of the water and snow and ice.”

After discussing her trip to the south end of the globe, Denise Wright asked Ropelle to give a presentation for the garden club about the trip.

“Several of the women in the garden club wanted to see the presentation,” she said. “There are really only about four plants in Antarctica. You might not even recognize them as plants — kind of a lichen and a tiny grass. It wasn’t of interest to me while I was there, but we just took pictures.

"Every day at the end of the day we had an opportunity to upload our pictures to the company’s website, and then when we got home, we had access to use all of those photos. It was not to put it out there and you took the photo and I took the credit for it, but we could just have them. People got good pictures where we weren’t in the right spot or whatever, so I was able to use those and gave credit to all of my shipmates for the presentation.”

According to Ropelle, the chain of events continued when members of the club decided that the photographs should have further use through the organization.

“In the process of giving this presentation to the Nancy Weber Garden Club, somebody said, ‘You ought to submit them. The garden club has a photo contest going on’ “I explained that just a couple of these are mine. So, on a whim I decided I should at least try for the garden club.

“I submitted two of them and three or four months later an email came and the woman said there were around 250 submitted — that I made the top 25. I later got the news that I wasn’t a big winner, but it was published in the National Gardener.

"Then each year the national garden clubs have an annual convention, and the top 25 or more at the international convention in Biloxi, they were on display. According to the woman who sent me the information, that they were printing them up on note cards and they were selling them. The proceeds from the sales were for the National Garden Club Plant America Program.”

Ropelle was surprised that since there were no flowers or greenery in the photo that the National Garden Club would use it in such a prominent way.

“They had a category for landscapes,” she said. “That’s the irony of it. If you look at some of the other pictures in there, it’s the nature landscape category. There’s really no plants in it.

“That’s the story of how the Nancy Weber Garden Club got some well-deserved recognition for all the work it does for our community. Only by the inspiration of the ladies in our club did I do this.”

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Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at mmarberry@farmingtonpressonline.com.

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