Youth Engagement through Videography

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Children in Grayling practice their photography skills. Photo by D. Khalsa

The WCS Arctic Beringia office has collaborated with the National Park Service and Alaska Geographic’s Arctic Youth Ambassador program to create several short videos highlighting a youth perspective on nature and conservation. In May of 2016, WCS Arctic Beringia sent a videographer and an Arctic Youth Ambassador from Shishmaref, Alaska, to the villages of Shageluk and Grayling to gather stories from the area about recent bison reintroduction efforts. This project coincided with the successful campaign (led by the WCS North America program) to recognize the bison as our national mammal.

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Travis Workman  of Shageluk taking video footage from a skiff. Photo D. Khalsa.

The team spent five days in western Alaska teaching several K-12 students basic videography and interview skills, and gathering footage to be edited at a NPS youth media workshop in September. Interviews were conducted with tribal elders, community leaders, and anyone who wished to tell their (usually funny) bison stories. The youth also had the opportunity to interview Tom Seaton from Alaska Department of Fish and Game, who spent five years spearheading the reintroduction process.

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A Go Pro camera mounted to the bow of a boat is used in teaching videography skills to youth in rural Alaska.

In September, two of the original youth participants attended the NPS videography workshop hosted by the Effie Kokrine Charter School in Fairbanks. They learned how to use editing software to create a story narrative, and produced a video titled “Wood Bison.” With this final product in hand, the Arctic Beringia program felt comfortable accepting a very generous invitation for our videographers to attend the American Bison Society Meeting in Banff, Canada.

A three-member delegation attended the meeting, representing the multiple participants in Alaska who helped create the video. The Alaska group then worked with youth videographers from the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana and the Blood Tribe in Alberta to create an entirely new video comprised of interviews with meeting attendees. In a little over 48 hours the youth created a 5-minute video that was presented during the meeting’s cultural evening. It was a huge success and a great opportunity for the participants to work cross-culturally while further developing their technical skills.

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Aerial photo of bison re-introduced to Innoko National Wildlife Refuge in western Alaska. Photo by D. Khalsa.

Moving forward, WCS Arctic Beringia will continue our collaborative engagement with Alaskan youth through videography and other creative media. We are currently developing an educational outreach project that will encourage the exploration of science and conservation, while also helping participants develop technical skills and the confidence to tell their stories.

Written by Carrie Haddad, WCS Program Officer. October 26, 2016
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