Report from Professor Chris Palmer
This year's Classroom in the Wild: Chesapeake Bay was a success despite cold weather. Gale force winds and freezing temperatures did not stop the class of 14 from capturing beautiful footage of the region. Every day, the group of undergraduate, graduates and non-AU students showed their enthusiasm and motivation to learn and help each other in the field.
SOC and MFA grad students Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath and Kent Wagner did a superb job of teaching the class. I warmly commend them.
I visited the class in the field and was very impressed by the students and by Kent and Elizabeth.
The class spent five days in the Bay region, staying at the Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area where they learned from filmmaking experts like Josh Newman and Sandy Cannon-Brown in the field and during Fireside Chats, filmed sunrises and learned about long-exposures to capture the night stars.
On a frigid day at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge they had a wonderful presentation from Supervisory Wildlife Biologist, Matt Whitbeck, where they learned about the threat of rising sea levels. Ray Pattera also talked with the group about the land management strategies of the refuge and how to be good stewards of the land. The class spent the afternoon capturing stunning footage of birds and trees, learning critical techniques like waiting patiently for shots and how to effectively use the gear.
They spent a day with Katey Nelson, the education manager at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC), where they learned about birds of prey rehabilitation, aquaponics and the challenges currently facing the Bay and its migrating birds.
Back in the edit room at AU, Don Fish addressed the group with a wonderful look into his editing work at Discovery Channel and National Geographic. The students then dug into editing and all produced top-quality videos, audio montages and photo series that highlight the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay, the challenges it faces and some of the fascinating people who are dedicating their lives to protecting it.
The films will screen at a special Center for Environmental Filmmaking event in the Doyle/Forman Theater in the fall.
I'd like to commend each one of the students for their enthusiasm, creativity and hard work throughout the week: Robert Boyd, Christopher Cassidy, Samantha Daley, Ashley Gary, Caroline Kettlewell, Gabriella Krevat, Christopher Lapinski, Ashley Luke, Niall Patrick, Jake Raimer, Hillary Reskin, Shannon Shikles, Amelia Tyson, and Kira Zimmerman. Their commitment to learning the craft, inquisitive spirits and compassion for the future of the Chesapeake Bay was inspiring and motivating.
The feedback from the students was very positive. Kira wrote that it was "a course that exceeded my expectations in every way possible!" Shannon wrote that, "I really learned so much in this short week.”
In addition to Kent and Elizabeth, I want to thank all my SOC colleagues who do so much to support Classroom in the Wild, including Jeff Rutenbeck, Laura Bondurant, Brigid Maher, Laura Murray, Melanie Werner, Nicole Cusick, Jean McGee, Geoff Turner, Jeffrey Madison, John Zollinger, Tia Milledge, George Marshall, Christine Frezek, Kayla Ferguson, and Tara Flakker. Thank you all!