Local Environmental Film Contest a Success

Local Environmental Film Contest a Success

RUTLAND HERALD 05/28/20
By Keith Whitcomb, Jr. 

BRANDON — Flooding, mosquito spraying and littering were the winning topics for the inaugural Brandon Environmental Film Competition.

The competition was announced last fall by Brandon resident Michael Shank, a volunteer at the Neshobe Elementary School library, communications director for the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, adjunct faculty member at New York University Center for Global Affairs, and current interim chairman of the town planning commission.

“It was inspired by a conversation I had with Hannah Fjeld, who is the librarian at Neshobe,” said Shank. “I mentor as part of Everybody Wins, and so I’m over at the library once a week reading to one of the students. And she, Hannah, was teaching the kids how to shoot and edit film. She had a green screen in the library and I have a background in theater and film, my undergrad is in theater and film, so I’m a big fan of the arts and their ability to communicate and transform around key issues.”

The winners of the contest’s top $500 prize are Mickeen Hogan and Isaac James, students at Stafford Technical Center, whose video “In Our Backyard” is about floods. The five minute video can be viewed at bit.ly/0508Backyard

Taking second place and winning $250 with his video “Malathion” is Colt Bagnulo, of Goshen, who is in the sixth grade at Neshobe Elementary School. His video can be watched at bit.ly/0508Mosquito

“Mine was about the mosquito spraying,” he said, referring to the activities of the Brandon-Leicester-Salisbury-Goshen Insect Control District, which also serves Pittsford and Proctor.

Malathion is a type of pesticide used to control adult mosquito populations. Its use has been debated by the BLSG and environmental groups.

“It’s a big issue in Goshen, some people are really for it, some people are really against it, and because it’s one of the major issues in my town I said I was going to do it to raise awareness that it’s a thing, that it’s really harmful,” said Bangulo. “Many people don’t even know that it’s happening or that it’s going on right in their backyard.”

Taking third place and winning $150 were Keith Carrara, Cebelle Hull, Andrew Kenyon and Katelyn Lee, with their film “Litter,” which can be viewed at bit.ly/0508Litter

Shank said the contest was open to anyone in the Brandon area. There were 23 entrants, mostly from the Brandon schools.

“There was a big focus on plastics, because Neshobe had participated in a National Geographic workshop around plastics, so there was a lot of awareness around that and a lot of interest, so that’s why we got so many submissions around that,” he said.

He would like to hold this contest again, hopefully with more outreach and prize money. Shank said he put up the funds himself for this round, but is thinking there’s a nonprofit out there that might be interested in helping increase the rewards.

The contest pairs well with library and classroom projects that go on regularly in the school district, said Fjeld.

“As a librarian, I believe pretty strongly in the importance of developing a lot of different literacies and technological skills for the future, so it’s been something I’ve emphasized in my program,” she said.

She teaches weekly classes through the library and gets a great deal of mileage out of video editing software the school subscribes to.

“I always incorporate some sort of video project for students in fourth through sixth grade, just because I think they’re important skills to have right now, especially at this moment,” she said.

Shank said he’s happy with the results.

“I was thrilled with the content,” he said. “There was a diversity of topics covered which is great, everything from logging to animal abuse to climate change, to litter, to pesticide spraying, it was a whole range of issues which was awesome.”

He said the entrants did fine work editing their videos, too.

“There was some really impressive editing for fifth- and sixth-graders and high-schoolers,” he said.