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Young Air Commando wins national photography contest

Zayiah Craig, 11, displays her award-winning photo, titled “Best Friends Forever,” at the Hurlburt Field Youth Center, March 14, 2016. Craig entered her photo into a national photography contest, organized by the Boys and Girls Club of America where she competed against all B&GCA nominations to include all youth programs across the entire Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

Zayiah Craig, 11, displays her award-winning photo, titled “Best Friends Forever,” at the Hurlburt Field Youth Center, March 14, 2016. Craig entered her photo into a national photography contest, organized by the Boys and Girls Club of America where she competed against all B&GCA nominations to include all youth programs across the entire Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

Zayiah Craig, 11, takes photos of nature at the Hurlburt Field Youth Center, March 14, 2016. Craig’s passion for photography began two years ago when she took photos during a family vacation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

Zayiah Craig, 11, takes photos of nature at the Hurlburt Field Youth Center, March 14, 2016. Craig’s passion for photography began two years ago when she took photos during a family vacation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- A young Air Commando from the youth center, here, won the 2015 Image Makers national photography contest organized by the Boys and Girls Club of America that was judged at the local, regional and national level.

“I was surprised when I found out I won,” said Zayiah. “It was exciting.”

Zayiah Craig, 11, submitted her photo titled “Best Friends Forever” and was notified at the beginning of this month her photo won against all B&GCA and youth centers across the entire Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, stateside and overseas.

“I thought that [the competition] would be an awesome experience to show her that she could branch out and do some cool and exciting things with photography,” said Neka Craig, Zayiah’s mother and child development education technician with the 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron. “I was amazed and very proud of her, and she was excited, yet very humble at the same time.”

According to Neka, Zayiah’s interest in photography started about two years ago.

“I think family vacations sparked her interest in photography,” said Neka. “She would take pictures of everything from signs to buildings. Then, around the house, she would take pictures of the furniture and herself.”

Air Force youth centers partner with the B&GCA to provide similar high-quality programs and curriculums like that of the photography club, babysitter safety program, youth sponsorship program and goals for graduation, just to name a few.

Zayiah has been going to the Hurlburt Field Youth Center since she was five years-old and is able to take photos during events thanks to that partnership.

“We have cameras for the kids to use while they’re at the youth center,” said Margaret Casler, youth center program director with the 1st SOFSS. “Some of the kids even use their cell phones.”

Zayiah has already submitted another photo into the 2015 photography competition where it won locally and made it to the regional level.
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