“In this age, everybody is always staring at screens. They might as well learn something while doing that.”
With a few thoughtful mouse clicks, Mariah Lundgren transforms a trickle of feeding trout into a crowded crayfish buffet. The Omaha native catalogs and edits thousands of photos and transforms them into videos 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 photos 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 Lundgren who are working on projects that contribute to a more water and food secure world. To Lundgren, who graduates in December with a bachelor of environmental studies, this means applying her talents as a visual communicator toward a future in environmental education. “I think this will definitely give me a toolset to move forward to educate people. I’m learning how to tell stories, how to communicate science to people.”
In addition to teaching storytelling and videography techniques, “the Mikes,” as they are known, also bestow their own brand of wisdom, says Lundgren. “I’ve learned to never think something is too big or extreme to do. They tell me ‘If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.’”