National Park Service partnership provides video production experience
The disorientation of sea turtles caused by human-created light sources, a reenactment of the death of Nancy Lincoln and lessons in ocean kayaking are a few of the stories the National Park Service needed to tell.
Enter Media School students.
A partnership between The Media School and NPS is providing Media School students with hands-on video production experience and the nation’s public parks with high-quality promotional content. The expanding National Park Service Learning Program, now in its third year, sends Media School students on alternative break service trips to produce media content for the parks.
This year’s programs will take students to Indiana’s Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial during fall break and to Mississippi’s Gulf Islands National Seashore during spring break. Details for a third trip, to take place after graduation in May, will be announced later in the year.
“These are resources that the parks need and seldom have the capacity to develop on their own,” said Katie Beck, associate director of student services, experiential education. “It’s a great learning opportunity for our students, and it’s also really fun because you get to go spend a week in a national park.”
The partnership originated with the annual Gulf Islands program, which began in 2017, Beck said. So far, 16 students have traveled to the park in Florida and created eight videos on topics ranging from camping to musket demonstrations to educational sea turtle programs. Eight more will return this spring, this time to a park site in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The park uses the videos on social media and for in-park displays.
“These trips allow you to learn a lot in a short amount of time,” said senior Abigail Billing, who co-led a video about camping at Fort Pickens during the 2018 Gulf Islands trip. “You learn how to work on a tight deadline with teams and real-world clients.”
Billing said the NPS alternative break programs are great opportunities for students who lack the time for a travel course or the ability to get an internship, and that they also allow students to volunteer their time and creative abilities for a meaningful cause.
Six students will travel to Lincoln City, Indiana, during next week’s fall break to film an event commemorating the bicentennial of the death of Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Lincoln, and create a living history program for the Lincoln National Boyhood Memorial.
The event will begin with a discussion on the hazards of living on a farm in the early 19th century, said Mike Capps, the park’s chief of interpretation and resource management. Guests will then visit the farm to learn more about the significance of her death before watching a reenactment of Nancy Lincoln’s death in the cabin.
Through this partnership with IU, Capps said he hopes to obtain video projects from the students that the park wouldn’t be able to do itself.
Other parks throughout the country have reached out to The Media School to discuss potential programs, Beck said.
“The more student interest we have, hopefully the more programs we can run in the future and the more parks we can support,” Beck said. “And there are parks everywhere, all over the country, that want us to come to them.
“The story of the national parks is the story of the United States, and we are proud that Media School students can play a role in telling that story.”
Reporter Chris Forrester also contributed to this story.