Students partner with nonprofits for video projects

Video can be a powerful medium for communicating scientific issues that affect our world and no one knows that better than the students who take LSC’s video production class. Groups partner with a nonprofit organization or initiative to produce a public service announcement (PSA) or advertisement for them, connecting LSC with its community.

Madeline Kalicka, Scott Hennelly, Julian Cooper and Chris Lopez partnered with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA) last semester to produce a video about the importance of the natural resources that wetlands provide the state and what the organization does to preserve them.

The video was so successful the WWA is now using it for fundraising and awareness purposes on its website. They also liked it so much the organization is even featuring the video at its annual conference later this month.

“Making this video furthered my LSC education because I was exploring a part of LSC that I had not yet experienced,” Kalicka said. “Using a professional camera, as well as actually going to people’s houses and interviewing them with our own questions was an extremely real-world, hands-on experience.”

After a few organizations weren’t able to partner with the group, LSC professor Patty Loew, who taught the class last semester, suggested the WWA and the organization was more than happy to have the help of the students. The group worked with the organization to find sources and shoot footage of the wetlands.

The group ended up preparing two videos for the WWA. One to get people to join the organization and another to use for fundraising purposes during the Big Share event, which is an online day for giving to 70 local nonprofits that is on March 3.

“To me, working on this video was like creating a piece of art — we had to combine separate elements like music, b-roll, and interviews in such a way that was engaging to the viewer,” Hennelly said. “Seeing it all come together into a product that I know the WWA will actually use is a great feeling.”

The students said they credit the class with teaching them the skills needed to produce a great video.

“Patty’s class prepared us in many ways for making the PSA,” Kalicka said. “From what kinds of questions to ask in an interview to how to use the video editing software and the cameras, the class essentially taught us how to produce, film and edit a successful PSA.”

HennelScreen Shot 2015-02-13 at 1.06.51 PMly said he liked that the class is very project-based and allowed him to really dive into a project. While shooting the video he even donned hip waders and trudged out to the middle of a wetland to capture underwater footage.

“In creating this video, I realized that you must provide a balance of information and entertainment when communicating a scientific idea to people,” he said. “Too much information, and the viewer will lose interest. Too much entertainment, and the viewer doesn’t take away the main message of the video.”

The goal of LSC 314: Introduction to Digital Video Production is to leave students with a basic understanding of how to tell a compelling visual story. Loew wants her students to gain media literacy because the convergence of media means that they may likely find jobs that require a basic understanding of video.

“The public service announcement or informational video replaces a final exam,” she said. “Students choose a nonprofit organization or initiative that aligns with their interests, meet with their clients, and create a video that meets the needs of the nonprofit organization.”

She added that she is amazed at how this group’s project came out and is very impressed with how the group worked together to put their interviews, music and other footage into a video.

“I think this is a great example of the Wisconsin Idea,” Loew said. “We’re trying to connect our students to our communities in ways that benefit both the students and deserving nonprofit organizations, who may not have the resources to produce these videos on their own. It pushes the boundaries of the university in a way that contributes to the betterment of society. It also reinforces the importance of volunteerism, which many of us find meaningful as a lifelong commitment.”