Water for Food

Joe Arneson


University of Nebraska-Lincoln undergraduate student Joe Arneson shows a map of the Platte Basin Timelapse Project’s area.

“I would love to do something in the future with water conservation or water security.” 

When Joe Arneson clicks his mouse, seasons change, cornstalks burst from soil and a 700-mile river comes to life – all in the span of seconds. The Omaha native edits images, codes video and tells stories as a production intern with the Platte Basin Timelapse Project. Created in 2011 by Daugherty Water for Food Institute Faculty Fellows Michael Forsberg and Michael Farrell, the project uses 40 time-lapse cameras placed along the Platte River – from snow-capped peaks at the Continental Divide all the way down to where the Platte River empties into the Missouri south of Omaha. Ultimately, their goal is to put the still of days, months and years into motion and transform the watershed into a living, breathing organism.

In August 2014, the Water for Food Institute awarded its inaugural round of student support grants to faculty fellows. The grants provide stipends to students like Arneson who are working on projects that contribute to a more water and food secure world. To Arneson, who graduates in May 2015 with a bachelor of water science, this means creating timelapse videos that demonstrate how even the seemingly mundane – like turning on a faucet – can have unexpected repercussions in a highly dynamic watershed. “I like how with the visual tools I can show people what impact they are potentially making on the environment. I want people to have more of a concern for their environment.”

In addition to teaching digital editing and storytelling techniques, “the Mikes,” as they are known, also bestow their own brand of schooling, says Arneson. “They’re always really pumped when we go somewhere. They’re really interested and ask tons of questions. A lot of that has rubbed off.”

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